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Williams wary of Vera threat

Serena Williams will take nothing for granted in her bid to become a four-time Wimbledon champion despite heading into tomorrow's showpiece against Vera Zvonareva as red-hot favourite to regain the crown.

Williams powered past gutsy Czech Petra Kvitova 7-6 6-2 to set up her match against the experienced Russian, who came from a set down to beat Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova 3-6 6-3 6-2.

Williams said: "On paper it looks like I should win, but I've played Vera several times and she's beaten some good people. Her last two matches she's been down a set so she's obviously a fighter. She never gives up.

"She doesn't do anything terrible. I think that's the best way to describe her game. It's tough playing a player like that who doesn't really have one real weakness and everything pretty much is a strength."

Williams has now hammered down a record-breaking 80 aces in the tournament although she was made to work hard by Kvitova, whose own power play swept her into a shock early break before the American stormed back.

Fist-pumping on every winning shot, Kvitova endeared herself to the Centre Court crowd with some stunning forehands, which had Williams on the back-foot, before the world number one used her experience to claw her way back into the match.

After edging the tie-break 7-5, Williams stepped up another gear in the second set, securing the double-break and eventually closing out the match in style -- but not before a stunning 19-stroke rally had gone Kvitova's way in the penultimate game.

Earlier, Zvonareva had to work even harder to repel the early change of Venus Williams' conqueror Pironkova, who played some superb tennis in sweeping the first set before the Russian found her consistency and fought back.

For Zvonareva, earning a place in her first grand slam final was rich reward after years of injury problems and she is steeled to face the Williams serve, which, she admits, is a potent weapon on grass.

Zvonareva said: "It's a very big advantage but I think if you find the timing you can return it."

Andy Murray, meanwhile, insists the burden of history will not be sitting heavily on his shoulders as he bids to end the 74-year wait for a British men's singles champion at Wimbledon.



BIDDING

The fourth seed was due on court this afternoon to take on world number one Rafael Nadal in a bid for a first appearance in the final at the All England Club.

Murray found himself in the same situation last year but was beaten in four sets by eventual runner-up Andy Roddick after he appeared tense on his big day on Centre Court. But he does not feel extra pressure in being the latest man to try to emulate Fred Perry.

He said: "It's something that you just learn to deal with. It doesn't affect the way I play. It's not something that you're thinking about when you're on court."

Murray has met Nadal before at Wimbledon, in the quarter-finals two years ago, and it was his comprehensive defeat that day, which proved something of a wake-up call for the Scot.

He went away and worked extremely hard on his fitness, and two months later he beat the Spaniard in the semi-finals of the US Open to reach his first grand slam final.


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