LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 29: Venus Williams of USA rests between games during her Quarter Final match against Tsvetana Pironkova of Bularia on Day Eight of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 29, 2010 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Wimbledon, Day 8: Serena Cruises Into Semifinals, But Venus Stunned By Pironkova

SB Nation's Ben Rothenberg breaks down the action from Day 8 at Wimbledon.

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Wimbledon: Petra Kvitova Wins 8-6 In The Third, Makes First Grand Slam Semifinal

Once she was able to level the final set at 6-6, Petra Kvitova quickly finished out her quarterfinal with Kaia Kanepi, beating the Estonian qualifier 4-6, 7-6(8), 8-6 to make her first career grand slam semifinal.

Except for on Kanepi’s match points, I never lost the feeling that Kvitova was going to win this match. Not only is her game superior to Kanepi’s—her self-belief is as well.

Kvitova has ousted an incredible roster of players to make this final, of which, ironically, Kanepi is the least prestigious. She beat Sorana Cirstea, Zheng Jie, Victoria Azarenka, and Caroline Wozniacki on her way to the quarterfinals, each of whom has previously made a grand slam quarterfinal (or better).

Kvitova will have her hands more than full against Serena Williams in the semifinals, but might be able to catch Williams off guard if Serena believes all the talk about how the title is already hers. Kvitova still won’t win in that event, but she would at least be able to make things significantly more interesting.


Wimbledon: No. 1 Serena Williams Powers Into Semifinal With Win Over No. 9 Li Na

No. 1 Serena Williams is into her third straight Wimbledon semifinal with a deceptively easy 7-5, 6-3 win over No. 9 Li Na.

Serena earned her first break of the second set from a very loose service game by Li in the fifth game of the set, breaking her at 15 for a 3-2 lead courtesy of an unforced forehand error by Li that found the middle of the net.

Serena got an insurance break just two games later, gaining a 5-2 with Li lead.

Serena then reciprocated Li’s loose serving by being broken in the next game, as she tried to serve for the match, giving Li a window of opportunity to make the second set interesting.

But Li didn’t capitalize and was broken for the third straight time to lose the set 6-3 and the match in straight sets.

It’s fairly absurd how heavily favored Serena will be the rest of the way. She is the only top 20 player in the semifinals, and the only one to have made a grand slam final. If she doesn’t win her fourth Wimbledon on Saturday, it will be one of the biggest shocks in the history of the sport.


Wimbledon: No. 21 Vera Zvonareva Upsets No. 8 Kim Clijsters

Upsets continued in Day 8’s Ladies’ Singles action, with No. 21 Vera Zvonareva upsetting No. 8 Kim Clijsters 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 to make her first Wimbledon semifinal.

It was a classic Clijsters-style loss, as the Belgian seemed to rush more and more as her chances went downhill. Zvonareva, hardly a picture of mental toughness, was able to stay steady as Clijsters allowed her to dictate most points.

Clijsters had won all five of the pair’s previous meetings, including twice on grass, though the two have not played since 2006 (in large part due to Clijsters’ retirement).

It’s Zvonareva’s second career grand slam semifinal, having previously made the final four at the 2009 Australian Open.

Zvonareva will be favored against Pironkova in the semifinal, but only slightly. She should have an easier time generating pace against Pironkova’s junkballs than Venus did, but Pironkova, despite her inexperience, should be considered the more mentally tough of the two.

Should be an interesting (if somewhat surreal) match to watch.


Wimbledon: Tsvetana Pironkova Shocks No. 2 Venus Williams In Quarterfinal

For the second straight day, the No. 82 player in the world rankings has knocked a 2009 Wimbledon finalist out of the second week of the 2010 tournament.

A day after ATP No. 82 Lu Yen-Hsun upset No. 5 Andy Roddick on Day 7, WTA No. 82 Tsvetana Pironkova delivered an even bigger upset in the Ladies’ Singles, comprehensively beating No. 2 Venus Williams 6-2, 6-3 to make the Wimbledon semifinals.

Winning only five games in the match makes this the worst loss of Venus’ Wimbledon career.

Pironkova, 22, had shocked Venus at a major before, beating her in three sets in the first round of the 2006 Australian Open.

Pironkova gave the five-time Wimbledon champion fits with her variety, throwing in all sorts of junky forehand slices and chops that died short in the court, then following them with powerful, penetrating shots that left Williams guessing the entire way.

Venus hit 29 errors to only 6 for Pironkova, but a lot more of those errors were Pironkova’s doing than not. Venus struggled to dictate play or generate any pace, and once Pironkova sunk her teeth into a point she generally won it.

Pironkova, who had never before won more than one match in a row at a grand slam, has not lost a set so far at Wimbledon 2010 (10-0).

With the win, Pironkova becomes the first Bulgarian to reach the semifinals of a grand slam.


Wimbledon: Tsvetana Pironkova Wins First Set 6-2 Over No. 2 Venus Williams

Unseeded Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova has jumped out to a surprising early advantage against five-time Wimbledon champion No. 2 Venus Williams in their quarterfinal match on Court 1, winning four games in a row to take the first set 6-2.

Pironkova has been doing a tremendous job of prolonging rallies making Venus hit additional shots, extending points until an error comes from the Williams side. Pironkova is also mixing up her forehand extremely well, throwing in a lot of slices and chops that have kept Venus off-balance.

Venus has struck thirteen unforced errors to only one from Pironkova.

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