Wimbledon: Sharapova Fires Into Semis
Sixth favorite Maria Sharapova has reached the Wimbledon semi finals after destroying Dominika Cibulkova in straight similar sets, 6-1, 6-1, to meet this term’s Birmingham winner Sabine Lisicki.
The Russian needed exactly one hour to get rid of the Caroline Wozniacki’s killer whom she broke six times and past whom she hit five aces. Winner of the 2004 edition, the 24-year-old is now chasing her fourth major trophy and is likely to succeed taking into account that the former world number one hasn’t dropped any set so far this tournament.
Maria grabbed three breaks in the opener, clinching the first lead in just 27 minutes. Concerning the second term, it found the two players exchanging four breaks, three for the Russian and an early one for the world number 24 Slovak who finished the game with 11 unforced errors. Sharapova fired 23 winners compared to Cibulkova who had just three. Russian’s first serve percentage reached 76, while the Slovak converted just 35 of 51 serves.
Maria also chose to play much more offensive than her opponent as she won five of six net points compared to Dominika’s one failure. “I was playing someone I lost to a little over a month ago on clay in two sets, so I knew she was capable of playing some really good tennis. A few years ago I also lost to her at the French Open at the same stage as today. I thought I played really solid.”
Sharapova had previously crashed Shuai Peng of China 6-4, 6-2 and Klara Zakopalova 6-2, 6-3 in the third term. The first two rounds brought her two straight-set wins over Anna Chakvetadze and Laura Robson. Cibulkova, by contrast, had threatened with a remarkable performance following the huge win over the top seed Wozniacki whom the Slovak had defeated in three sets, 1-6, 7-6, 7-5. Unfortunately, she failed to get rid of the former leader, too, but her performances stands as one of her best ones in London.
Sabine Lisicki has provided one of the biggest surprises in the final eight after the German stunned the ninth favorite Marion Bartoli 6-4, 6-7, 6-1 in two hours and 21 minutes. Sabine hit nine aces compared to French’s one, but committed 24 unforced errors. The German counter-balanced her poor return with 52 winners compared to Bartoli who hit just 12.
Overall, the German won a 60 percentage of serve points, while her opponent went for a 66 one. The opener saw the two players exchange three breaks early in the first three games. Lisicki as the one to build though a 3-1 comprehensive lead she would preserve until the end of the term. She made it 1-0 after 43 minutes.
Regarding the second set, it highlighted the two exchange four more breaks, two apiece, and Bartoli push the set into the breaker. The tie-break was dominated by the French who managed to take a three-mini-break advantage early in the run to level the overall result in just over an hour. Finally, the decider showed the same stubborn Lisicki powering through to a five-game lead she easily converted into a big win. She first broke Bartoli in the second game, while the French could only hold her second service and never catch the German.
Previous to the quarter final, the German had ousted Petra Cetkovska 7-6, 6-1 and Misaki Doi 6-4, 6-2 in the third term. In the first round, she had defeated Anastasija Sevastova, while the second term brought her another huge victory over the French Open champion Li Na whom the German stunned 3-6, 6-4, 8-6. On the other side, Bartoli had followed a 6-3, 7-6 win over former world leader Serena Williams.
The third term brought her a 5-7, 6-4, 9-7 success over Flavia Pennetta, while the first two rounds saw her beat Kristyna Pliskova 6-0, 6-2 and Lourdes Dominguez 4-6, 7-5, 6-2. The head to head series between Sharapova and the 21-year-old is led by the Russian 1-0 who defeated the world number 62 at this term’s Miami Masters in the last 32.
Fourth seed Victoria Azarenka, winner of the Miami and Marbella events, eased past Tamira Paszek 6-3m 6-1 in just one hour and 25 minutes. The Belarusian won an impressive 74 percentage of first serve, compared to her opponent’s 59. Although she committed eight unforced errors, Azarenka compensated this with 30 winners.
Azarenka broke her opponent twice in the opener, taking the first lead in 49 minutes. The second set saw the same Belarusian thwart the Austrian revelation at one after winning three more breaks. Paszek failed to converted any of the four break points, allowing the favorite to dominated the meeting entirely.
The Belarusian will next play Petra Kvitova, who is a eighth favorite in London. The Czech, winner of three titles this season in Brisbane, Paris and Madrid, needed two hours to oust the world number 32 Tsvetana Pironkova 6-3, 6-7, 6-2, who was following a big victory over Venus Williams. Kvitova hit nine aces past the Bulgarian whom she also managed to break six times. The Czech broke her opponent twice in the opener to take the first lead after 30 minutes.
The second set saw the Bulgarian push the set into the tie-break. Pironkova broke her opponent in the fifth game to take a consistent 4-2 lead. Unfortunately she was broken back in the eighth term as Kvitova made it 4-4. Tsvetana eventually won the breaker at five to push the clash into decider. Finally, the third set brought the Czeck a couple of more breaks. Kvitova first broke her opponent early in the first game and managed to preserve a two-game lead until the seventh run when she drew the victory with another late break.
Petra closed out the game after a 36-minute last term. The Czeck had previously humiliated Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium 6-0, 6-2 and the Hertogenbosch winner Roberta Vinci 6-3, 6-3 in the third term. The first two rounds brought her two straight-set wins against Alexa Glatch whom she defeated 6-2, 6-2 and Anne Keothavong respectively whom the Czech ousted 6-2, 6-1.
En route to the quarter finals, Pironkova had upset Venus Williams and second favorite Vera Zvonareva whom the Bulgarian stunned in straight sets 6-2, 6-2 in the third round. The first two rounds had brought her a 6-2, 6-1 win over Camila Giorgi of Italy and a 6-1, 6-4 one over Petra Martic.
Azarenka will meet Kvitova for the fifth time, the head to head series between the two going 2-2 a the moment with the last two victories belonging to the eighth favorite who has defeated the 21-year-old Belarusian at the same Wimbledon event last year and this term’s Madrid Masters. Azarenka’s wins dates from the 2008 Prague and 2009 Australian Open Grand Slam.
Wimbledon Prize Money and points:
Winner – 1,100,000 pounds and 2000 points WTA
Runner-up – 550,000 pounds and 1,400 points WTA
Semi finalist – 275,000 pounds and 900 points WTA
Quarter finalist – 137,500 pounds and 500 points WTA
R16 – 68,750 pounds and 280 points WTA
R32 – 34,375 pounds and 160 points WTA
R64 – 20,125 pounds and 100 points WTA
R128 – 11,500 pounds and 5 points WTA11