Wimbledon, England (Sports Network) - Australian Open champion Victoria
Azarenka reached her second straight Wimbledon semifinal, while a battle of
the last two champions saw four-time titlist Serena Williams take down
defending champ Petra Kvitova on Tuesday at The Championships.
The second-seeded former world No. 1 Azarenka got past game Austrian Tamira
Paszek 6-3, 7-6 (7-4), while the sixth-seeded Williams doused the No. 4 seed
Kvitova in 6-3, 7-5 fashion under the roof on Centre Court at the All England
Lawn Tennis Club. Rain forced officials to close the $80-million translucent
roof on Day 8.
Azarenka and Williams will square off in a marquee semifinal here on Thursday.
The 22-year-old Azarenka looked sharp in the opening stanza against Paszek,
who was appearing in her second straight Wimbledon quarterfinal, en route to
an easy set win.
But Paszek would test the Belarusian slugger in the second.
Azarenka broke Paszek at love to grab a 5-4 lead in the second set, but the
Austrian broke right back to even things up.
The Belarusian star broke again for a 6-5 edge, but Paszek, again, broke right
back to send the second set into a tiebreak.
In the extra session, Paszek saved a first match point with a big backhand
winner to pull within 4-6, but the Belarusian converted on her next match
point when Paszek sent one final backhand long after 1 hour, 49 minutes of
Azarenka popped seven aces and broke Paszek three times, compared to only one
break for the hard-luck loser.
The Belarusian standout will now appear in her third major semifinal (1-1).
Williams, meanwhile, bounced the big Czech Kvitova in 84 minutes behind by
some brilliant serving. The former world No. 1 star hammered 13 aces, avoided
any double faults, and allowed only one break-point chance, which Kvitova was
unable to convert on Day 8. Williams smacked three aces in the final game to
seal the deal.
A determined Williams won the first set easily and got the key break she
needed in the second to grab a 6-5 lead when the lefthanded Kvitova netted an
errant forehand. In the next game, Williams converted on her first match point
by unleashing an unreturnable serve.
Williams bested Kvitova in a semifinal here at Wimbledon two years ago.
A pleased Williams, who was forced to escape a pair of tough three-set matches
in her previous two outings, was asked if she stepped up her game Tuesday.
"Yeah, I had to today playing the defending champ," she said after the big
win. "I'm going to have to [step it up again] if I'm going to win the
title. There's a lot of people vying for it still."
The 30-year-old Williams owns 13 majors titles, including four in this London
suburb, where she's also a two-time runner-up. The powerful American will
appear in her eighth Wimbledon semifinal (6-1).
Williams will meet Azarenka for a ninth time, with the American comfortably
leading their lifetime series, 7-1. Williams beat Azarenka in a Wimbledon
quarterfinal in 2009 and topped her on some blue clay in Madrid earlier this
In a match that started on Court 1 but finished on Centre, third-seeded Pole
Agnieszka Radwanska held off 17th-seeded Russian Maria Kirilenko 7-5, 4-6,
7-5. The two women started the day on Court 1, but because of rain delays
throughout the day, they were forced indoors to finish off their quarter,
which ended almost eight hours after it started.
Radwanska converted on her first match point against Kirilenko when the
Russian misfired wide on forehand after 2 hours, 50 minutes of court time.
The Polish Radwanska tallied one more break (6-5) than Kirilenko, who fired
nine aces in a losing effort.
Radwanska, who owns three WTA titles this year, will now appear in her first-
ever Grand Slam semifinal. She had been 0-5 in her previous major
The 23-year-old, who has a shot at claiming the No. 1 ranking this week, will
meet eighth-seeded German Angelique Kerber in the final four.
Kerber outlasted her 15th-seeded compatriot Sabine Lisicki 6-3, 6-7 (7-9),
7-5, also on Centre Court.
The lefthanded Kerber needed five match points to finally put away Lisicki,
who ousted world No. 1 Maria Sharapova here on Monday.
The 2011 Wimbledon semifinalist Lisicki saved three match points in the second
set, including a second one when she safely landed an easy forehand volley to
cap a super rally between the two women in the 10th game of the stanza.
Lisicki went on to win that game and level the set at 5-all.
Kerber lost a third match point when Lisicki ripped a backhand winner to even
the second-set tiebreak at 7-7.
In the deciding see-saw third set, Lisicki broke for what appeared to be a
safe 5-3 lead, as Kerber sulked around the court for most of the stanza.
But Kerber broke right back, then held, broke Lisicki again for a surprising
6-5 advantage, and closed out the match with an easy hold. Lisicki saved a
fourth match point with a forehand winner down 5-6 in the third, but Kerber
finally connected on a fifth match point when Lisicki sent one final backhand
wide on tennis' most-famous court.
Kerber prevailed in 2 1/2 hours despite a 10-ace effort from the big-serving
Lisicki. Kerber, however, broke Lisicki eight times, while the Day-8 loser
settled for five breaks of serve. Lisicki struck 38 more winners (57-19), but
also piled up 37 more unforced errors (50-13).
The 24-year-old Kerber improved to 16-1 in three-set matches this season, with
her only loss coming in a grass-court final in Eastbourne two weeks ago.
Kerber will appear in her first Wimbledon and second career Grand Slam
semifinal. She reached the semis at last year's U.S. Open.
The Sports Network