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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Sisters saunter onwards

Photo Titled Serena strength
Serena Williams works the ball during her quarter-final victory over Victoria Azarenka.
The Williams sisters moved effortlessly towards a rematch of last year’s final with their respective quarter-final victories on Tuesday. The best players who are not in the Williams family now stand in the sisters’ way, after top seed Dinara Safina and fourth seed Elena Dementieva also moved into the last four.

Defending champion Venus Williams was the first player into the semi-finals. Her 6-1, 6-2 victory over 11th seed Agnieszka Radwanska took just an hour and eight minutes. Venus hit 29 winners compared to six and had 12 break point opportunities to Radwanska's one.

After the match Radwanska predicted a Williams sister showdown in the final, and Venus had to concede her and Serena were "definitely the frontrunners in tennis as far as being some of the best players out there".

To prove the point, Serena Williams took five minutes longer than her sister to beat Victoria Azarenka 6-2, 6-3. Serena hits 26 winners compared to her opponent's seven and nine aces to nil. "Well, we definitely upped our level of game today," Serena said.

Safina was made to work harder for her shot at a first Wimbledon final. The Russian world No.1 was taken to three sets by German 19-year-old Sabine Lisicki before winning 6-7 (7-5), 6-4, 6-1. With an unforced error count of 38 and 15 double faults, Safina will be looking for a dramatic improvement when she meets Venus.

If the Russian can take anything from her tournament so far, it has been her abilitiy to 'win ugly', to borrow a phrase from Brad Gilbert. Safina says she has been taking the tournament one game at a time, which means she has the potential to cause an upset on Thursday. "If I play my best and she plays the best, it's 50/50 who is going win the match. I don't think if I play my best tennis and she plays the best tennis that she's the favourite. I think I still have a chance," Safina said.

The final player into the last four was Dementieva, who beat the unseeded Francesca Schiavone 6-2, 6-2. It was a comprehensive win for Dementieva, who is making her 43rd Grand Slam appearance, marred by the fact that she hit nine double faults and gave Schiavone eight break point opportunities.

"For me, the key for the match will be to play deep enough and try to put my first serve in, make sure that she's not going into the shots from the beginning," Dementieva said. "I think it was good to win all these matches in two sets and save some energy for the big moment, a semi-final. But I'm sure it's going to be a difficult match. It's going to be a fight for every point, every game. So I'm not expecting anything. I don't expect an easy match."

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