Friday 21 October 2016

Serena Williams obliterates Elena Vesnina to reach Wimbledon decider

Tom Allnutt

Published 07/07/2016 | 15:21

USA's Serena Williams shakes hands with Russia's Elena Vesnina after winning their semi-final REUTERS/Justin Tallis/Pool
USA's Serena Williams shakes hands with Russia's Elena Vesnina after winning their semi-final REUTERS/Justin Tallis/Pool

Serena Williams inflicted the fastest ever demolition in a Wimbledon semi-final as the American took just 49 minutes to thrash Russia's Elena Vesnina.

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Williams dismissed the world number 50 6-2 6-0 on Centre Court, needing two minutes fewer than the previous record when her sister Venus hammered Dinara Safina in 2009.

Venus or Germany's Angelique Kerber will be her opponent in Saturday's final and the top seed now stands just one win away from equalling Steffi Graf's Open era best 22 grand slam titles.

Serena has been the victim of some unlikely conquests over the last 12 months - Roberta Vinci, Kerber and Garbine Muguruza all pulling off surprise upsets against the 34-year-old - but there was no hint of another shock here.

The six-time Wimbledon champion lost one point on her first serve in the whole match, produced 10 aces and fired a total of 22 winners. Her fastest serve sailed past Vesnina at 123 miles per hour, 11 mph faster than Novak Djokovic's most recent average against Sam Querrey.

Vesnina, playing in her first grand slam semi-final, had never taken a set off her opponent in four previous meetings and, while there was the occasional groundshot to give the crowd hope of a contest, the 29-year-old was simply outpowered and outclassed.

John McEnroe, commentating for the BBC, said: "Serena's practice session this morning was harder than that match.

"Vesnina was frozen. Her legs looked like they weighed 200 pounds each. She couldn't move."

Kerber, who beat Serena at the Australian Open final in January, or older sibling Venus, resurgent after reaching her first major semi-final since 2010, will certainly offer a sterner test, but it is hard to see either containing the world number one in this sort of form.

"I'm very happy I was really focused we've had a lot of tough matches before and on this surface I knew she could bring it today," said Serena, who will be playing her ninth Wimbledon final.

"It's never easy out there every point you have to fight for. It's weird, I can't believe I'm in the final again."

The American was dominant from the outset, winning the first two games in eight minutes and while Vesnina offered some resistance in the third, an ace bringing up deuce much to the delight of the crowd, Williams snuffed out the threat with another booming cross-court forehand.

Finally, Vesnina got on the board, after two driving backhands into the corner but they were no more than a footnote to the opening set, which Williams served out with her seventh ace after 28 minutes.

Vesnina occasionally kept pace in the rallies and she tried everything in the second set to turn the tide, rushing the net, drop-shots and once even looking up to the sky in hope of some spiritual intervention.

Serena, however, always found an answer, completing the second set in just 20 minutes, as a forehand volley brought her victory, and Vesnina's humiliation, to an end.

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