Serena ousts defending champ Kvitova, will face Azarenka in semifinals

CBSSports.com wire reports
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Williams upsets Kvitova in straight sets after surviving two three-set matches at Wimbledon. (Getty Images)  
Williams upsets Kvitova in straight sets after surviving two three-set matches at Wimbledon. (Getty Images)  

WIMBLEDON, England -- The sounds were new to Serena Williams, and the feeling on Centre Court was different. The result, though, was quite familiar.

Playing under the retractable roof for the first time on the court where she's had some of her biggest triumphs, Williams eliminated defending champion Petra Kvitova 6-3, 7-5 to reach her eighth Wimbledon semifinal on Tuesday.

"I loved it. I loved the sound," Williams said. "The sound of the balls. It's kind of like a whoosh and a pop. It's really cool. It's almost like a video game, but you're playing. It kind of flies through and you hear it when it lands. ... I really like playing indoor."

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Her game seems well suited for it as well.

While rain disrupted play elsewhere at the All England Club, Williams used another commanding serving performance to overpower the fourth-seeded Czech in 1 hour, 24 minutes. Williams hit 13 aces -- including three in the last game -- to end Kvitova's 11-match winning streak at Wimbledon. Her last loss here also came against Williams, in the 2010 semifinals.

"You can't play a defending Wimbledon champion or Grand Slam champion and not elevate your game," Williams said. "I had to weed out the riffraff and just get serious."

The American four-time champion seized control by breaking Kvitova for 4-2 in the first set and then never gave her opponent a chance to get back in the match. She saved a set point when trailing 5-4 in the second with a hard serve down the middle that Kvitova could return only into the net. That was the only break point the defending champion earned, as Williams won 86 percent of the points on her first serve.

"I think that's why she's the great champion, because she knows what she needs to play in the important points," Kvitova said. "It's really tough to beat her."

Williams, 30, who hit a Wimbledon-record 23 aces in a fourth-round win over Zheng Jie of China, is trying to become the first woman over 30 to win a Grand Slam title since Martina Navratilova won Wimbledon in 1990.

Second-ranked Victoria Azarenka set up a Wimbledon semifinal against Williams by beating unseeded Tamira Paszek of Austria 6-3, 7-6 (4) late Tuesday, despite failing twice to serve out the match.

In a match that was moved from Court 1 to the roof-covered Centre Court because of a series of rain delays, Azarenka was broken for the first time when leading 5-4 in the second set. She broke right back but then wasted a second opportunity to serve it out, before converting her second match point in the tiebreaker when Paszek sent a backhand long.

Azarenka, who won this year's Australian Open, reached the semifinals for the second straight year. She will take over the No. 1 ranking from Maria Sharapova if she reaches the final.

Angelique Kerber advanced to her first Wimbledon semifinal by beating fellow German Sabine Lisicki 6-3, 6-7 (7), 7-5 in a match under the roof. Kerber will face third-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska next.

Lisicki, who knocked out Sharapova, saved three match points in the second set and served for the match at 5-3 in the third. But Kerber rallied to win the last four games, finally converting her fifth match point when Lisicki sent a backhand wide.

Radwanska reached her first Grand Slam semifinal late Tuesday by outlasting Maria Kirilenko 7-5, 4-6, 7-5 in a rain-soaked match that was moved onto the roof-covered Centre Court for the last four games.

Radwanska completed the women's semifinal lineup after maintaining her focus throughout a day that saw several rain delays and a late change of venue following a suspension of about 90 minutes at 4-4 in the third set. The match was the fifth of the day to wrap up on Centre Court, with the other three women's quarterfinals played there in their entirety.

The 17th-seeded Kirilenko, supported in her guest box by two-time NHL MVP Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals, was trying to reach her first Wimbledon semifinal.

Outside Centre Court, it was a start-and-stop day at Wimbledon, as the persistent rain continued to cause headaches for organizers.

Play was delayed for about 30 minutes on the outside courts in the morning, and two more rain delays interrupted play for a total of about three hours after that.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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