A GRASS GREAT
Serena Williams reaches her third consecutive final at Wimbledon by beating Petra Kvitova in straight sets
WIMBLEDON, England — After Serena Williams moved within a victory of her fourth Wimbledon championship and 13th Grand Slam title overall, she was asked to assess the woman she’ll face in Saturday’s final, little-known Vera Zvonareva of Russia.
“I don’t think she does anything terrible. I think that’s the best way to describe her game,” Williams said. “She does everything good.”
That’s a fair, if not necessarily charitable, scouting report. Minutes later came a followup: Is there anything Williams herself does “terrible” in tennis or in life?
She hemmed and hawed, then replied, “I don’t know. That’s a good question. I’m stumped.”
It’s difficult to find any flaws in Williams’ play right now. The No. 1-ranked American has won all 12 sets she’s played this fortnight, set a Wimbledon record with 80 aces in the tournament, and reached a third consecutive final at the All England Club by beating Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic 7-6 (5), 6-2 on Thursday.
“Well,” the defending champion said, “I’m hoping to still peak in the final.”
That must be a daunting prospect for the 21st-ranked Zvonareva, who eliminated Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 in a semifinal.
Zvonareva is the secondlowest-ranked woman to reach a Wimbledon final, had never gotten past the fourth round here, and will be playing in a title match for the first time in 30 Grand Slam tournaments.
“I always believe in myself. I don’t care about what everyone says,” said Zvonareva. “If I play my best, I can beat anyone. I never look at any odds.”
That’s good because Williams is a 1-to-3 betting favorite. Williams is 5-1 in her career against Zvonareva.
Williams hit seven aces Thursday, reached 119 mph, and didn’t face a break point in the second set.
“I couldn’t return,’’ Kvitova said. “She has a great serve.’’
Zvonareva’s match was entertaining, with both women pounding shots. There was an odd delay in the second game, when Zvonareva’s backhand landed in the net, and she immediately grabbed the ball and squeezed, showing it was flat. She handed the ball to chair umpire Eva Asderaki, who announced, “Ladies and gentlemen, the ball is broken, and according to the rules, we will replay the point.”
Zvonareva — who is studying for a master’s degree in international economic relations in Moscow— took 10 of the last 13 games. After producing eight winners in the first set, she totaled 23 the rest of the match. In all, Zvonareva won 29 of 35 points when she went to the net.
“She was playing very aggressive, she was pushing me all the time,” Pironkova said.
Zvonareva lost five of seven matches heading to Wimbledon, but she’s now on quite a run, including getting past former No. 1s Jelena Jankovic and Kim Clijsters. Plus, she already owns one victory this week over Williams — over both, actually — by teaming with Elena Vesnina to eliminate the top-seeded sisters in the doubles quarterfinals.
Serena Williams, above, defeated Petra Kvitova during during the semifinals at Wimbledon. Willams reached the final with a 7-6 (5), 6-2 victory, and will face Vera Zvonareva on Saturday.