Top Seeds Barty, Sabalenka Reach Wimbledon Semifinals
by Staff | July 6th, 2021, 2:14 pm
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For all the talk of upsets and unpredictability on the women’s tour, the top two seeds, a former champion and a former No. 1 are all in the Wimbledon semifinals.

World No. 1 Ash Barty played maybe her best match of the fortnight dispatching her countrywoman Ajla Tomljanovic 6-1, 6-3 in just 66 minutes under a closed Centre Court roof. Barty, who couldn’t finish the French Open, has showed no signs of any hip or injury issues. Today, the 25-year-old connected on 17 forehand winners to overwhelm Tomljanovic who was playing in her first Slam quarter.

“This is a dream come true. It genuinely is,” Barty said. “I know you hear that a lot from athletes but this is my dream and I’m extremely grateful that I’ve got an opportunity to come out her and have fun and live out what I work so hard to do. And I’m loving every minute, and this afternoon was no different.

“Ajla is an incredible competitor. I had to play my absolute best to be able to compete with her. She’s had an incredible fortnight and I think all Aussies back home are bloody proud of her and it’s really nice to share the court with her today.”

Barty’s win sets her up to face 2018 champion Angelique Kerber. After a poor run recently, the 33-year-old has caught fire on the grass. Kerber upped her win streak to 10 after knocking off Karolina Muchova 6-2, 6-3 to reach her fourth Wimbledon semifinal.

“I just try to continue my play on grass,” Kerber said. “Having, of course, the confidence from the last week, coming here with a title in my bag, gives me also confidence that grass is really my surface.”

Kerber is the only remaining player to have made the Wimbledon semifinals before.

“Of course, it’s a good feeling already to have the trophy at home and to win it here,” Kerber said. “I think it’s more about this tournament for me, because when I was a kid I really looked forward to playing this tournament good, and playing my best tennis here.

“Now I’m back. I’m coming after a really tough time. I was not playing good the last few months. Now winning last week a tournament at home, now playing well here again, that means a lot to me.”

Kerber and Barty are tied 2-2.

“Against Ash, I know that I have to play my best tennis,” Kerber said. “She has a lot of confidence right now. She played well. I know that I have to play my own game. I have to just think how to play, be aggressive, and try to take the match more in my hands and go for it. Even if I miss a few shots, I have to stay there and try to push her.”

Former No. 1 Karolina Pliskova is also experience a rebirth. The lanky Czech made her first Grand Slam semifinal in almost 2.5 years after cruising past Victorija Golubic 6-2, 6-2.

“Let’s say it was almost perfect. I would find some mistakes for sure,” Pliskova said. “But I always do find something. I think I did well. I think I did exactly what I needed to do to beat her. I was super focused and just tried to play every point, not to give her that many easy balls because I know she doesn’t really miss much.

“I expected tough match. I lost to her once in Fed Cup. She beat some good players. She was clearly on a run. I knew it’s going to be difficult since the first moment. I think I handled some tough situations. There were a couple of close games which I handled well.

“My serve was extremely good today, I would say. Also the court was hard because it was a bit windy out there today. These conditions are perfect for me. I’m happy about the win.”

The 13th-ranked Pliskova has now made the semifinals at all four Slams. She made the US Open finals in 2016 losing to Kerber.

“It means a lot, of course, especially after not really having many good weeks before Wimbledon. It feels a bit like a dream,” Pliskova said. “I always believe at some point I will find my game. I’m just happy it worked out well these two weeks.”

Pliskova will take on No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka who is finally coming of age. In her long-awaited first Slam quarterfinal, the 24-year-old Sabalenka got past a tough Ons Jabeur 6-4, 6-3.

“I was struggling on the Grand Slams with all emotions going through,” Sabalenka said. “After every slam I was so disappointed about myself that I can’t handle this pressure.

“I actually thought that I will never make it to the second week. We worked a lot with my psychologist and with my coach. I’m really happy that here in Wimbledon I’m in the second week, I’m still in the tournament, and I still have this opportunity to win a slam. I will do everything I can to reach my goal.”

Jabeur credited her opponent.

“She served well from the beginning till the end, which is kind of hard for a tennis player to find a solution for in the middle of the match,” Jabeur said.

“I think she didn’t make a lot of mistakes. But I’m honestly proud of myself for trying and being positive the whole way because it’s not easy to accept that someone is playing good from beginning and the end of the match.

“Today she deserved to win and I hope she can go as far as she wants to. I know she’s been waiting for this for a long time.”

The semifinals will take place on Thursday.

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