Monday 21 August 2017

Garbine Muguruza advances as Venus Williams becomes oldest Wimbledon semi-finallist in 23 years

Venus Williams of the U.S. celebrates winning the quarter final match against Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko REUTERS/Tony O'Brien
Venus Williams of the U.S. celebrates winning the quarter final match against Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko REUTERS/Tony O'Brien

Garbine Muguruza moved one step closer to winning her second grand slam title by beating Svetlana Kuznetsova in the Wimbledon quarter-finals.

Muguruza was a runner-up at the All England Club in 2015 but looks primed to go one better this year after easing past the experienced Kuznetsova 6-3 6-4.

Last year's French Open champion will now face either American Coco Vandeweghe or the tournament's surprise package Magdalena Rybarikova for a place in the final on Saturday.

Kuznetsova enjoyed strong starts in both sets but failed to capitalise and it was Muguruza's superior serving and movement that proved decisive on Court One.

"I played good. I was clear about what I had to do, we have played a lot together. I was just trying to go for it, play my game," Muguruza told the BBC.

"(Reaching the final in) 2015 seems far away. I am a different player, more calm now. There have been big changes in me.

"I'm so happy to be back at the place where I had my breakthrough."

Venus Williams continued to put the new generation in their place as she defeated French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko to reach the Wimbledon semi-finals.

Ostapenko was only a few weeks old when Williams made her Wimbledon debut 20 years ago.

And the 37-year-old Williams made experience count in a 6-3 7-5 victory to move closer to a sixth title at the All England Club.

Williams has not won a grand slam crown since lifting the Venus Rosewater Dish for the fifth time nine years ago.

But she has been getting closer, reaching the semi-finals here 12 months ago and then losing to sister Serena in the final of the Australian Open in January.

Williams' longevity has been accentuated by the age of her Wimbledon opponents, who have also included two 19-year-olds and a 21-year-old.

Ostapenko was the junior champion here only three years ago and would certainly have been more fancied to make her slam breakthrough on grass than clay until her stunning performance at Roland Garros.

Backing up that sort of out-from-nowhere triumph is notoriously difficult but the fearlessness of youth has served Ostapenko well and she appears to have paid little attention to the heightened levels of expectation.

Perhaps the under-fire Wimbledon schedulers did her a favour by keeping her well away from the main show courts until this clash.

Not that Ostapenko appeared nervous in the early stages but it took her time to find her range, with the Latvian making too many errors in the opening set.

Williams won the first three games and did not let her advantage slip despite an improvement from Ostapenko.

This was first-strike tennis, with neither woman interested in getting involved in long rallies.

Williams gained the upper hand in the second set, too, but a double fault allowed Ostapenko to level at 3-3.

It looked like the younger player might force a decider but Williams stayed at the same consistently high level while her opponent fluctuated.

And when Ostapenko dropped off again, Williams pounced, breaking serve in the 11th game and then serving out the victory to love.

Williams, who next plays either Johanna Konta or Simona Halep, becomes the oldest Wimbledon semi-finalist since Martina Navratilova in 1994.

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