Wimbledon 2013 – women’s semi-finalists decided

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The absence of Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka meant the quarter-finals proved to be unusually open and it was evident in the terrific matches experienced.

Such were the level of upsets at the All England Club over the past week and a half, the winner of Wimbledon 2013 women’s singles title will be claiming their first ever Grand Slam title.

The highest ranled player left in the draw is Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanskwa, who booked her semi-final spot in one of the most entertaining women’s matches at the tournament yet, beating sixth seed Na Li in three.

The fourth seed managed to fight off four set points when the first and even came back from 5-3 down in the tie-break to win it.

Li is a former French Open champion and knows how to win big points, coming back in the second to triumph with some powerful hitting.

Radwanska is nothing like as powerful as most of her opponents in the top ten, but showed why she is there with some brilliantly varied play and metronomic consistency.

“Death by a thousand cuts” was how nine-time champions Martina Navratilova described playing Radwanska, but it was the Pole’s incredible mental strength that was the difference here; coming back from a rain delay to have the roof closed and having her thigh strapped up to win 7-6 4-6 6-2, after needing eight match points in the final game.

Lisicki’s win over Serena Williams is the other challenger for best game of the tournament with the first match on Centre Court, but progress to her second Wimbledon semi-final was far more straightforward.

Kaia Kanepi had broken British hearts by knocking out home crowd favourite Laura Robson in the previous round, but she could not live with the consistent returning of her German opponent.

23rd seed Lisicki is now bookies favourite for the title but she will likely have to face a much sterner test against last year’s finalist than she got with Estonian Kanepi, winning 6-3 6-3.

Radwanska is not the only former finalist left in the draw, however, 2007 runner-up Marion Bartoli will also get a chance to go one better if she defeats Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens.

Bartoli came through in straight sets against young American Sloane Stephens in a match that saw ten breaks of serve in the second set as both players struggled.

The 15th seed’s flat groundstrokes and splendid returning made the difference in the end, as she came through 6-4 6-4 in a match that was stopped because of rain when Stephens was serving to stay in the first set – Bartoli’s insistence that she wanted to halt play did not endear her to the crowd on No.1 Court.

Bartoili may be the more experienced player in her semi-final, but it seems her opponent has found herself in the midst of an SW19 fairytale.

A year ago Kirsten Flipkens was 262 in the world, receiving no financial support form the Belgian tennis federation and recovering from treatment for blood clots in her calf.

Since then, aided by financial help from wealthy Belgian industrialist Jean-Pierre Heynderick and some coaching from good friend Kim Clijsters, she has risen 242 places and made her first ever Grand Slam quarter-final.

Her opponent on Centre Court, eighth seed Petra Kvitova, was taller than her, more powerful than her and, being 2011 champion, had vastly more experience in the latter stages of the biggest tournaments.

The 27-year-old former Wimbledon and US Open junior champion was not perturbed by her opponent’s stature or power, however, and put on a performance of incredible poise to win 4-6 6-3 6-4.

Flipkens varied her strokes to bring Kvitova out of her comfort zone, moved her around the court and served fantastically to keep her dream alive.

The matches will be played on Thursday, with the order of play released on Wednesday evening.

While few can be certain which of the players left in the draw will eventually become champion, there is certainty that the Wimbledon crowd on Saturday will be seeing history made.

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Maria Sharapova
Agnieszka Radwanska
Serena Williams

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