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'Gruntometers' on standby for potential ladies final

Spectators could be set for one of the loudest ladies finals in Centre Court history on Saturday, should Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka come through their semi-finals this afternoon.

Sharapova, who takes on wild card Sabine Lisicki, sent the gruntometers into overdrive during her 2004 victory over the equally vocal Serena Williams, but her highest-recorded shriek of 105 decibels could well be exceeded should Azarenka, who will have to get past Petra Kvitova, end up facing her in the final. The pair met in Miami earlier this year, but tensions, and noise levels, are likely to be much higher in a Grand Slam final.

Fourth seed Azarenka, whose grunt has been likened to the 'boing, boing' of an arcade game, takes part in her first Grand Slam semi-final against fellow 21-year-old Kvitova first up on Centre Court this afternoon.

Kvitova, the world No 8, has been on terrifying form throughout these championships, dropping her only set during her quarter-final win over Tsvetana Pironkova.

But the young Czech will have to sit up and pay attention if she is to bring about a third win over Azarenka in their fifth meeting, and the match is likely to be won and lost according to how well Azarenka retrieves Kvitova's thumping left-handed serves.

The other semi-final, between Sharapova and Lisicki, the lowest-ranked member of the final four at No 62 in the world, will be only their second encounter, the former world No 1 having obliterated the German for the loss of just two games in Miami earlier this year.

A three-time Grand Slam champion, Sharapova has lost only 25 games during the tournament so far. But Lisicki (21) has formidable assets to her game, not least her huge first serve, meaning that Saturday's potential shriekathon is by no means a foregone conclusion. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent