Azarenka, Sharapova, Kvitova & Lisicki to Semis

Wimbledon 2011
By Hiland Doolittle, June 29th, 2011

Marion Bartoli, the conqueror of Serena Williams and 9th seed, mounted a stand against the best 62nd ranked tour player to have set foot on the All England Club’s hallowed grounds.

Still regarded as the third best player in Germany, Sabine Lisicki showed top ten potential in her dismantling of the veteran Bartoli. Lisicki’s offense begins with her 120 mph serve but there is more to the fleet German’ game than serving power.

She used a crushing forehand and crisp two-handed backhand to put away the stubborn Bartoli. In the two hour twenty minute, 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-1 win, Lisicki used all her power to land 9 aces and a shocking 52 outright winners against 24 unforced errors. Lisicki has jumped to the front page of the 2011 Wimbledon.

Maria Sharapova into Wimbledon 2011 Semifinals

In the semifinals, Lisicki will oppose another power player who has been there and done that before. The bookmaker favorite, Maria Sharapova, may hold the key to the match with her sometimes erratic serve. Sharapova dominated her quarterfinal pairing against Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova, whose forehand lifted her over Caroline Wozniacki, disappeared against the aggressive Maria Sharapova.

The fifth seeded Russian put forth a focused effort that resulted in a lopsided 6-1, 6-1 victory. In the one hour match, Maria had 5 aces, 10 unforced errors and 23 outright winners. It was humbling loss for Cibulkova who certainly exceeded expectations.

Lisicki has also exceeded expectations. While Maria Sharapova is concentrating on winning Wimbledon, Lisicki is probably delighted to be in the semifinals. If the German brings the same intensity and aggressiveness to Centre Court that she exhibited against both Bartoli and Li Na, she is capable of the upset. A determined Lisicki was not anticipated but she has clearly proven to be the strongest player in the bottom half of the draw’s first page. The fascinating semifinal is scheduled for Thursday.

A small degree of order was achieved by favorites Petra Kvitova and Victoria Azarenka in the draw’s second page quarterfinals. The 4th seed, Azarenka, was especially dominant against over-matched qualifier Tamira Paszek, 6-3, 6-1.

With all the turmoil seeds have undergone, Azarenka and Sharapova have survived. Azarenka, a resident of Belarus, has quietly and effortlessly moved through the draw. Her popularity is somehow affected by the same grunting noises emitted by Sharapova. It is anticipated that if Azarenka and Sharapova make it to the finals and the dome is closed, the viewing public will never have been subjected to such a loud style of play.

Before Azarenka reaches the finals she will face the very dangerous 8th seed, left-hander Petra Kvitova. The Czech was pushed to three sets by Venus Williams’ conqueror Tsvetana Pironkova, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-2. Like Sharapova and Azarenka, Kvitova has a powerful all court game.

Kvitova had 9 aces and 54 outright winners. The Czech holds nothing back. When the match is completed, Kvitova has nothing left in the tank. Petra represents Azarenka’s biggest test thus far. Some analysts feel the crowd will rally behind her and the upset is a strong possibility. These two semifinals look like the most balanced in a while. All contestants have peaked at the right time.

Sharapova vs. Lisicki - The 24-year old Sharapova and the 21-year old Lisicki have met once previously with Maria winning. Ironically, both players live in Bradenton, Florida. If the bright lights do not get to Lisicki, she is in top form and very capable of pulling the upset.

Azarenka vs. Kvitova - These women have met four times. They have split their matches evenly. Kvitova and Azarenka are both 21 and mark the transition in the women’s game. This match looks like a tossup and could well be decided by Azarenka’s ability to control her temperament. Look for the upset this time.


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