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Wimbledon diary: girl power

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Originally published on: 30/06/10 11:35

The rain that fell in SW19 before play started today did nothing to dampen the spirit of the Championships on a Ladies’ quarter-finals day  packed with surprises and unexpected winners.

Zvonareva finally makes final four

Today on Centre Court Vera Zvonareva defeated Kim Clijsters 36 64 62 to claim victory for the first time in six meetings, and take a place in the semi-finals. It is the high point in the Russian’s career, which has been smattered with injury and a lack of self-belief.

It may have been that as the Belgian observed,  “it’s too bad I wasn’t able to come up with, you know, my best at the important time in the match. She did.  She was very consistent, didn’t give me any easy mistakes.  I gave her a few too many.” The Russian felt she played good focused tennis “I was able to play one point at a time today.  I was able to keep my concentration from the beginning till the end of the match.”

All Ova for Venus

Zvonareva meets unseeded Tsvetana Pironkova in the semi-final after the 22-year-old produced arguably the biggest upset to date in this year’s Championships, knocking out five-time champion Venus Williams in emphatic fashion 6-2 6-3.

Pironkova hails from Bulgaria, a country with as many grass courts as journalists at Wimbledon – none, though the hack count will surely rise by Thursday – and first played on grass just five years ago. Surpassing the progress at SW19 of the feted Maleeva sisters, she is the first Bulgarian to reach a Grand Slam semi-final.

Quite an achievement, that – not that you’d know it from her post-match comments. “I actually thought I could win and I am going for it. I really love this tournament and love coming to it.”

She still remembers that first foray on grass. ”I think it was five years ago here at Wimbledon at the qualifying. I played at Roehampton then. Back then, I thought, Wow, it’s impossible.  How can I play on this surface? But with every match that I play on grass I feel better and better.”

The 29 unforced errors from Williams’ racket may just have helped.

Serena serves up seventh semi

So, Venus won’t feature in the Wimbledon final for the first time since 2006 – but rule out both Williams sisters and see how long it takes for the men in white coats to arrive with a snug, ill-fitting jacket and suggest going for a spin in their shiny new wagon.

The younger Williams sister booked her spot in the semi-finals for the seventh time with a 7-5 6-3 victory over AEGON Classic champion Na Li.

The Chinese stayed with the defending champion with some impressive tennis until serving to stay in the first set for the second time, succumbing to the pressure with a double fault.

In truth Li did well to keep the score respectable. Serena made just six unforced errors during the 80 minutes she spent on Centre Court and served like a dream in the type of display that will send shivers down bookies’ spines across the land. Odds on? All bets are off.

Taking her chance

The last of the day’s quarter-finals was a treat for the Court One crowd, a real ding-dong tussle between Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi and Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic. Long after Serena had hit the locker room, and just before she made it to her presser (we know how long she takes to prepare herself for those), the two players were still battling it out.

Incredibly, 20-year-old Kvitova rallied from a set down and even saved five match points to win 4-6 7-6(8) 8-6, sealing victory at the first attempt to bring the two-and-a-half-hour contest to an emotional close.

Prior to this year’s Championships, Kvitova had never won a match at Wimbledon. Nobody can hold that against her now – nor can they question the calibre of opposition she has faced. The world No.62 saw off rising duo Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki to reach the last eight with the same swashbuckling brand of tennis that has set up a showdown with the defending champ.

Serena won the duo’s last meeting convincingly 6-2 6-1, but Kvitova looks a different prospect this week. If nothing else, there should be final four fireworks from two players currently hitting the ball harder and truer than most.

Britwatch: junior edition

After the annual first-week lamentations about British tennis, all eyes have turned to the nation’s next generation in week two. There were five British boys in action: Liam Broady, who was hitting with Rafael Nadal on the practice courts a few days ago, was outmuscled by America’s Denis Kudla 7-5 6-2. The Argentine Renzo Olivo 3-6 7-6 6-3 defeated Lewis Burton. And Damir Dzumhur beat Ashley Hewitt 6-1 6-3. But there were victories for James Marsalek over the Netherland’s Jannick Lupescu 7-6 6-1 and British No.1 Oliver Golding downed Colombia’s Juan Sebastian Gomez 6-4 6-4.

Meanwhile in the girls’ event Laura Robson cruised to a 6-0 6-4 victory over America’s Krista Hardebeck, and Tara Moore notched up a 7-6 6-2 victory against Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard. Eleanor Dean came through in three sets against Russian Ksenia Kirilova 6-4 0-6 6-4. But Francesca Stephenson was defeated in three sets by Monica Puig 1-6 6-3 6-4.

WimbleWords

The new Wimbledon official poet in residence has proved an instant hit. Producing poetry everyday that reflects the day’s action, we still like the original poem Thwok! that starts” bounce bounce bounce bounce
thwackety wackety zingety ping
hittety backety pingety zang
wack, thwok, thwack, pok, thwikety, thwekity, thwokity, thwakity.”

If you fancy it you can listen to the poem on the Wimbledon website, where it really comes to life. The shortest poem written to celebrate the longest match also mean thanks to the Wimbledon poet in residence we now know what a haiku is.

Tennis Rocks

At Cannizaro House this coming Saturday July 3, Formula One legend Eddie Jordan and his all star band The Robbers are raising money for Sport Relief with a concert that will see a few rock‘n’roll tennis players taking to the stage too. Tickets still available by calling 0844 871 7671 or check out www.cannizaroparkfestival.co.uk

Cool pairing prove hottest ticket

The Court Two stands were packed for the return of Martina Hingis and Anna Kournikova to SW19 for the veterans’ invitational doubles, but not half as packed as the photographers’ benches. Click here to see our snapper’s shots of the action.

Oh, they were playing Sam Smith and Anne Hobbs, by the way. And they won, 6-2 6-4.

Now get the WORLD’S BEST TENNIS MAGAZINE here


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