Wimbledon 2012: the women’s semi-finals

Fierce baseline tussles are on the cards as Angelique Kerber takes on Agnieszka Radwanska and Serena Williams faces Victoria Azarenka

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Angelique Kerber (GER) (8) v Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) (3) – first on Centre Court

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Neither Kerber nor Radwanska were present in the third round of last year’s championships, let alone the semi-finals. But both women have enjoyed great success over the past year – Kerber rocketed up the rankings from 100 at last year’s tournament to eighth, whilst her Polish opponent has risen from that same spot to third in the world. She could even reach the top on Saturday, but only if Azarenka falls today and she defeats Serena in the final. This afternoon’s clash may not be the high-profile pick of the two semis, but it could be the better match, as both in-form players stand a realistic chance of reaching their first Grand Slam final. Neither woman has a huge weapon, but they share a solid all-court style so expect long points as they battle it out to remain the last one standing. 

Serena Williams (USA) (6) v Victoria Azarenka (BLR) (2) – second on Centre Court

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Serena is the only previous champion left in the draw, having overcome the reigning Petra Kvitova in the quarter-finals. The four-time winner heads into today’s match as favourite but conversely has spent longer on court (8 hours 7 minutes) and lost more games (47) than any of the other semi-finalists. Bypassing her third round wobble – she took the final set against Zheng Jie 9-7 – Serena has finally found the devastating form we expect of her, and the bookmakers have tipped her as favourite to regain her grass-court crown. But an in-form Azarenka is in poll position to halt her progress. The Belarusian has had a phenomenal season, winning the Australian Open in January and enjoying a winning streak of 26 straight singles matches, reigning as number one in the world for 19 weeks. Their head-to-head tells one story, with Serena leading 8-1, but, based on Azarenka’s outstanding year, spectators can expect a fierce baseline tussle between two players hungry to reach Saturday’s final.