Venus, Mugu­ruza into Wim­ble­don s-fi­nals

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Venus Wil­liams be­came the old­est Wim­ble­don semi-fi­nal­ist for 23 years as the five­time cham­pion brushed aside French Open win­ner Je­lena Ostapenko, while Gar­bine Mugu­ruza pow­ered past Svet­lana Kuznetsova to make it back to the last four yes­ter­day.

Wil­liams’ 73-minute mas­ter­class on Cen­tre Court clinched a 6-3, 7-5 vic­tory that made her the most se­nior player to reach the semi-fi­nals since Martina Navratilova in 1994. The Amer­i­can star, who reached the last of her eight Wim­ble­don fi­nals in 2009, faces Bri­tain’s Jo­hanna Konta or Ro­ma­nia’s Si­mona Halep in the last four on Thurs­day.

World num­ber 11 Wil­liams, beaten in this year’s Aus­tralian Open fi­nal, was knocked out in the 2016 semi-fi­nals and is chas­ing a first ma­jor ti­tle since win­ning Wim­ble­don in 2008. Wil­liams’ vic­tory equalled her sis­ter Ser­ena’s to­tal of 86 main draw match vic­to­ries at Wim­ble­don, the most among any ac­tive player.

She will climb back into the top 10 thanks to her Wim­ble­don run, but break­ing Ser­ena’s record to be­come the tour­na­ment’s old­est cham­pion in the Open era is her sole fo­cus. “I love this game. That’s why I put in the ef­fort and the time. It’s a beau­ti­ful game. It’s been so good to me,” Venus said.

“The com­pe­ti­tion keeps you grow­ing. You have to get bet­ter if you want to stay relevent. “I love the chal­lenge. It’s not al­ways easy deal­ing with the pres­sure. It’s only you that can have the an­swer.”

Twenty years af­ter mak­ing her Wim­ble­don de­but, Venus was play­ing in her 100th sin­gles match at the All Eng­land Club, while Ostapenko was in only her eighth. That gulf in ex­pe­ri­ence was im­me­di­ately ap­par­ent when Venus broke in the sec­ond game and cruised through the first set in serene fash­ion.

Hav­ing stunned the ten­nis world by be­com­ing the first un­seeded player to win the French Open last month, Ostapenko was rid­ing an 11-match win­ning streak at the ma­jors.

But Ostapenko, 20, was the youngest player left in the tour­na­ment and Venus has scythed through the draw by dis­patch­ing a se­ries of op­po­nents al­most half her age, many of whom idolised the seven-time Grand Slam cham­pion when they were grow­ing up. Wil­liams was just too canny for the fresh-faced Ostapenko, ma­noeu­ver­ing her out of po­si­tion time and again be­fore de­liv­er­ing the kill shot. Af­ter break­ing in the third game of the sec­ond set, Wil­liams moved into a 3-1 lead, then en­dured her only wob­ble as Ostapenko broke back. Wil­liams was un­fazed and shat­tered Ostapenko’s spirit with an­other break be­fore serv­ing out a com­mand­ing win. Mugu­ruza pow­ered into her sec­ond Wim­ble­don semi-fi­nal in the last three years with an em­phatic 6-3, 6-4 win over Rus­sian sev­enth seed Kuznetsova.

Since win­ning her maiden Grand Slam ti­tle at the French Open last year, Mugu­ruza has strug­gled to re­turn to the top and this is her first ma­jor semi­fi­nal since that Roland Gar­ros tri­umph.

STORMY

Mugu­ruza, beaten by Ser­ena in the 2015 Wim­ble­don fi­nal, will face Coco Van­deweghe or Mag­dalena Ry­barikova in the last four.

The 23-year-old is be­ing coached by Con­chita Martinez, who be­came the only Span­ish wo­man to win Wim­ble­don in 1994, and the lessons ap­pear to have done the trick. “I played good. I’m try­ing not to think a lot, just go for it and play my game. I’m happy it worked out,” Mugu­ruza said. “It seems far away since I last made the fi­nal here. I’m a com­pletely dif­fer­ent player. “It means a lot to make the semi-fi­nals again, my break­through was here.” Fol­low­ing Venus onto Cen­tre Court is Jo­hanna Konta, who takes on Si­mona Halep bidding to be­come the first Bri­tish wo­man to reach the semi­fi­nals since Vir­ginia Wade in 1978.

Not since Jo Durie in 1984 has Bri­tain had a fe­male rep­re­sen­ta­tive in the last eight and Konta, hop­ing to be­come the first home win­ner of the Wim­ble­don women’s ti­tle since Wade in 1977, has added in­cen­tive to go a step fur­ther against Halep af­ter their stormy Fed Cup en­counter ear­lier this year. Konta was re­duced to tears by what she felt were threats and in­tim­i­da­tion from the Ro­ma­nian fans in Con­stanta dur­ing her match against So­rana Cirstea, but Halep fanned the flames this week when she claimed her com­pa­tri­ots had done noth­ing wrong. Halep has ex­tra mo­ti­va­tion of her own as a vic­tory over Konta will guar­an­tee she takes over from An­gelique Ker­ber as the new world num­ber one. — AFP

WIM­BLE­DON: Spain’s Gar­bine Mugu­ruza re­turns against Rus­sia’s Svet­lana Kuznetsova dur­ing their women’s sin­gles quar­ter-fi­nal match on the eighth day of the 2017 Wim­ble­don Cham­pi­onships at The All Eng­land Lawn Ten­nis Club in Wim­ble­don, south­west Lon­don, yes­ter­day. —AFP

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