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Serena Williams beats Petra Kvitova, reaches Wimbledon semifinals

WIMBLEDON, England — Thanks to a bit of advice from her big sister and a bunch of aces from her big serve, Serena Williams is back in the Wimbledon semifinals.

With two more victories, Williams will be holding a Grand Slam trophy for the first time in two years.

The thud of racket-against-ball reverberating under the closed Centre Court roof, Williams smacked 13 aces at up to 120 mph and overpowered defending champion Petra Kvitova 6-3, 7-5 in the quarterfinals Tuesday at the All England Club.

Williams, 30, turned in her best performance of the tournament against her most difficult opponent. After being stretched to 9-7 and 7-5 third sets against less accomplished women in the two previous rounds, the No. 6-seeded Williams was on top of things from the get-go against No. 4 Kvitova.

"You can't play a defending Wimbledon champion or Grand Slam champion and not elevate your game," said Williams, who produced 27 winners and only 10 unforced errors. "I had to weed out the riffraff and just get serious."

After losing the first two points of the match, Williams buckled down and took 20 of 23 on her serve in the rest of that set. Kvitova hung tough in the second, though, yelping louder to punctuate winners. Then came a key moment, with Kvitova ahead 5-4 and Williams serving at 30-all. Kvitova whipped a crosscourt backhand winner to earn her only break point of the day.

But Williams delivered a 109 mph serve, and Kvitova's backhand return slapped against the net's white tape. From there, Kvitova shanked a forehand off her frame, and Williams hit a volley winner after both wound up at the net.

In the next game, with Kvitova serving at 5-all, 30-love, she fell apart, making four consecutive miscues.

That gave Williams a chance to serve it out. Did she ever. The four points she won, each serve loud on impact: 117 mph ace, 117 mph ace, 116 mph ace, 113 mph service winner.

"I loved the sound. It was really cool. I've never played under the roof," Williams said. "It's kind of like a 'whoosh' and a 'pop.' … It's almost like a video game, but you're playing. It kind of flies through and you hear it when it lands."

Thursday, Williams will play No. 2 Victoria Azarenka, the reigning Australian Open champion, who defeated unseeded Tamira Paszek 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) to reach the semifinals for the second straight year. The other semifinal will be No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska against No. 8 Angelique Kerber.

The last two American men in the draw were beaten: 10th-seeded Mardy Fish wasted the one-set lead he built before play was suspended Monday and lost to No. 5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 4-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4, 6-4, and 126th-ranked qualifier Brian Baker's run ended against No. 27 Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-1, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3.

. fast facts

Today's matches

Men's quarterfinals Roger Federer (3) vs. Mikhail Youzhny (26); David Ferrer (7) vs. Andy Murray (4); Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Florian Mayer (31); Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (5) vs. Philipp Kohlschreiber (27)

TV: 7 a.m., ESPN2; 8 a.m., ESPN

Serena Williams beats Petra Kvitova, reaches Wimbledon semifinals 07/03/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 3, 2012 10:57pm]
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