Get ready for another one-sided Wimbledon final — a Williams sister on one side, and her victim on the other.
In Thursday’s women’s semifinals at the All England Club, Serena Williams flexed her muscles in brute-forcing fellow former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka off the court 6-3, 7-6(3), in the process setting a Wimbledon record for aces in a match with 24.
“I’ve been working so hard, and I really, I really wanted it,” the four-time Wimbledon champ Williams said. “I got a little tight in the second set. I couldn’t relax. I was like, looking too far in the future and she came back. But I’m glad I was able to get through.”
The former record holder for aces in a women’s match? Serena with 23.
The grunting Azarenka looked like she could force a third set, but not even her shrill “Byewwwwwwwwww!”s could propel her past Williams, whose exhalations seemed demure next to the exhorting Belarussian.
In contrast to Williams’ physicality, Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska will be on the other side of the net Saturday in the women’s final after beating German Angelique Kerber 6-3, 6-4.
Radwanska, the No. 3 seed, has brought back memories of former No. 1 Martina Hingis this year at Wimbledon — lacking power, but making up for it with placement, angles and — something rarely seen in the latter rounds of a women’s match — timely net approaches.
“This is a dream from when I was kid,” Radwanska said. “I’m playing tennis almost 18 years, and of course everybody’s dream is to play the final of a Grand Slam.”
The 23 year old is the first Polish woman to reach a Slam final in the Open Era.
“We both were a bit nervous in the beginning,” Radwanska said of the numerous errors from both players early on. “Of course this is the semifinals, so you really want to try your best, but sometimes too much, and your hands a little bit shaking. After a couple of games, I just relaxed a little bit. I was really focusing on every point.”
Williams has won both her career meetings against Radwanska, who will need every bit of her guile on Saturday to avoid a blowout at the All England Club.
The winner of 2012 Wimbledon will be the 7th different Grand Slam champion in a row. With Radwanska reaching her first Grand Slam final, 9 of the current Top 10 have now reached a major final (Kerber has reached two GS SFs)
In the last 10 years (since 2002), 6 players have won a Grand Slam singles title in their maiden GS final appearance: Myskina (2004 Roland Garros), Sharapova (2004 Wimbledon), Kuznetsova (2004 US Open), Schiavone (2010 Roland Garros), Kvitova (2011 Wimbledon) and Azarenka (2012 Australian Open)
Radwanska is bidding to become Poland’s first Grand Slam singles champion of either sex. Jadwiga Jedrzejowska was runner-up in 3 Grand Slam finals in the 1930s, including Wimbledon in 1937
A win today would also make Radwanska the first Pole to be No.1 on the WTA rankings, and the 22nd woman to reach the top spot since computerised rankings were introduced in 1975; as runner-up she would be No.2 behind Azarenka. Williams will be No.4, whatever the outcome of the match (behind No.3 Sharapova)
Both finalists are part of successful sister acts on the WTA. Urszula Radwanska is currently ranked a career-high No.54, and like Agnieszka is a former Wimbledon junior champion (2007). Serena is gunning to join Venus Williams with 5 Wimbledon singles titles
In 3r vs. Zheng, Williams served a Wimbledon record and personal best 23 aces. In SF vs. Azarenka, she set a new high of 24. Across the tournament, one in 5 of Serena’s serves that have gone in have been aces (20%)
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