A GRASS GREAT

Ser­ena Wil­liams reaches her third con­sec­u­tive fi­nal at Wim­ble­don by beat­ing Pe­tra Kvi­tova in straight sets

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS - By Stephen Wil­son

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.

Alastair Grant

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.

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