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The second ladies' semi-final at Wimbledon on Thursday pitted the world no.2 Victoria Azarenka against the 13-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams. With many calling this match a de facto final, there was a lot on the line for both players as the winner of this marquee encounter was favored to emerge as the Wimbledon champion. A lopsided first set gave the American the all-important one set to love lead with the 4-time champion dominating proceedings right from the outset with her probing serve and her powerful groundstrokes. Even though, the second set was fought neck-to-neck, Serena's impenetrable serve proved to be the thin line of difference between both the players, blasting a record 24 aces, to allow herself to edge the Belarusian in the deciding tie breaker to proceed to her 7th Wimbledon final.
The first set saw both players holding their serves with consummate ease through the first seven game of the set. Nevertheless, it was the American who had a much easier time on her delivery, blasting a total of 8 aces in the set alone and more impressively winning 15 of 16 points when her first serve went in. In the 8th game, the Belarusian's serve went under the gun, going down a couple of break points thanks to some inspired play by the American and some equally poor errors from the racquet of Azarenka. Serena required just one, sealing the break with a whopping backhand winner down the line to allow herself the opportunity to serve for the match. Another routine hold that included 2 aces gave the 13-time Grand Slam champion the first set in just 33 minutes.
With the momentum firmly in hand, Serena started off the second set like a woman possessed, hitting winners at will and in the process breaking the world no.2's serve in just the 3rd game of the set with the help of some scorching winners. Things started to look ominous for the Belarusian, being a set and a break down and with Serena seemingly slamming an ace on every other serve, Azarenka seemed to be on her way out within a matter of minutes.
However, the Australian Open champion fought on bravely, breaking through Fort Knox of women's serves to get back on level terms. The rest of the set proceeded on serve and even though Azarenka found herself in some spots of bother, she managed to see them off to force a tie-breaker.
The tiebreak was even more closely contested, which saw both players relentlessly refusing to lose even a point on their respective serves. However at 6-all, Azarenka succumbed to the Serena onslaught to hand the American a second matchpoint. An ace, taking her overall tally to 24, rounded off the proceedings in just under an hour and 40 minutes.
This authoritative win, places Serena in her 7th Wimbledon final where she is looking to grab her 5th Wimbledon title to go level with big sister Venus, who has been right here by her side all week. Her final opponent is the Polish world no.3, Agnieszka Radwanska who had an even easier time earlier on Centre Court, seeing off the challenge of her semi-final opponent Angelique Kerber in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4. However, the 13-time Grand Slam champion will be an altogether different prospect for the Pole and considering Serena's overall grass pedigree and the fact that she leads their head-to head record 2-0, the American has to be the overwhelming favourite going into the encounter.
File Photograph Copyright: Elizabeth
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