Serena Williams rides return game to 12th semifinal berth at Wimbledon

Serena Williams rides return game to 12th semifinal berth at Wimbledon

When Serena Williams’ serve wasn’t getting her all the points she needed at Wimbledon, she turned to her return game.

Job done, and then some.

Williams reached the semifinals at the All England Club for the 12th time, overcoming five breaks of serve to beat Alison Riske 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 Tuesday on Centre Court.

“It’s a long, arduous road,” Williams said. “It’s not easy.”

The seven-time Wimbledon champion, who owns 23 major titles overall, was broken twice early in the first set despite six aces, trailing 3-1 and 4-3, but she broke back each time and then again to take the set.

Williams landed 81 per cent of her returns (25 of 31) in that first set and won more than 50 per cent of the points on both Riske’s first serves and her second serves. That return percentage dropped slightly to 76 in the second, but it jumped back up to 81 in the third.

WATCH | Serena Williams relies on her returns to get through quarter-finals:

Despite a poor day of serving, the 7-time champion dug deep to beat Alison Riske 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 Tuesday on Centre Court. 1:05

She won the match with an ace, her 19th of the day. Williams had served only 22 aces in the previous four rounds.

“She was really so close to taking the win today,” Williams said. “She was playing her heart out. She had nothing to lose and I realized I didn’t either. I need to just do better.”

Joining Andy Murray in doubles

Riske, who upset top-ranked Ash Barty in the fourth round, had never before faced Williams on the tennis tour and was playing in the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time. She certainly took advantage of every chance she had, converting each of the five break points she created.

WATCH | Unseeded Alison Riske takes out No. 1 Ash Barty:

Alison Riske advances to her first Grand Slam quarter-final with a surprising 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 win over Ashleigh Barty. 1:36
Williams will face unseeded Barbora Strycova on Thursday in the semifinals. But first, she’ll be back out on Centre Court later Tuesday to play mixed doubles with Andy Murray.

On No. 1 Court, former No. 1 Simona Halep beat Zhang Shuai 7-6 (4), 6-1 to reach the Wimbledon semifinals for the second time.

WATCH | Simona Halep off to semifinals after straight-sets win:

For the second time in her career, the Romanian booked a spot in the All England Club’s final four with a 7-6 (4), 6-1 over Zhang Shuai. 1:02

Halep, who beat teenage sensation Coco Gauff in straight sets in the fourth round, is the highest seeded woman left in the draw at No. 7.

Zhang led 4-1 in the first set and had four break points, but Halep saved them all.

Strycova, Svitolina victorious

Elsewhere, Barbora Strycova and Elina Svitolina reached their first Grand Slam semifinals.

Strycova beat Johanna Konta 7-6 (5), 6-1 on Centre Court and Svitolina came from a break down in both sets to pull out a 7-5, 6-4 decision against Karolina Muchova.

Strycova trailed 4-1 in the first set but broke back for 4-3 and clinched the tiebreaker when Konta netted a forehand.

The unseeded Czech player, who will face Serena Williams in the semifinals, then raced to a 3-0 lead in the second and broke again for a 5-1 lead.

Strycova’s only other Grand Slam quarterfinal appearance came in 2014 at Wimbledon, where her serve-and-volley style of play is effective on the grass courts.

WATCH | Elina Svitolina outlasts Karolina Muchova:

Elina Svitolina downed the Czech Republic’s Karolina Muchova 7-5, 6-4 to set up a semifinal showdown with Simona Halep. 1:10

Svitolina was down 4-1 in the opening set but broke back when Muchova served at 5-3 and won the next three games as well. In the second set, Muchova broke again for a 2-0 lead only for Svitolina to win the next five games. Svitolina failed to serve out the match on her first attempt at 5-2 but later converted her first match point when Muchova missed a backhand return.

Svitolina had lost her previous four Grand Slam quarter-finals, including at this year’s Australian Open, while her previous best result at Wimbledon was reaching the fourth round in 2017. She will next play former No. 1 Simona Halep.

Published at Tue, 09 Jul 2019 15:22:11 +0000