Serena Williams pulled off another escaping act to reach the semifinals of the 2015 Wimbledon Championships Tuesday. After dropping the first set to Victoria Azarenka, she stormed back to win the next two, a common occurrence for the top seed in recent months.
Maria Sharapova, Agnieszka Radwanska and Garbine Muguruza will join the American in the tournament’s final four after their wins on Day 8. Top-ranked men’s player Novak Djokovic also advanced in a match carried over from Monday.
Let’s check out how all of the action played out from the All England Club. The scores are followed by a recap of a drama-filled day in London.
Day 8 Recap
Williams is just two victories from holding all four major titles at once and nine wins away from the calendar Grand Slam. Even though those extraordinary accomplishments are within reach, her journey to this point has been a long and winding road.
She was pushed to three sets in five of her seven French Open triumphs, including the final against Lucie Safarova that she almost let slip away. She’s also gone the distance in two of her past three Wimbledon matches, beating Heather Watson and now Azarenka.
In the end, however, she continues to find ways to win. Wimbledon showcased her reaction following the latest close call:
Azarenka likely beats any other player on the WTA Tour Tuesday. Her play, especially for the first set and a half, was nothing short of tremendous. But when it mattered most, the best player in the world stepped up, as Howard Bryant of ESPN.com noted:
Williams moves on to the semifinals to face longtime rival Sharapova. The fourth-seeded Russian was seemingly on cruise control against CoCo Vandeweghe before a hiccup late in the second set allowed the American rising star back into the match.
Luckily for the 2004 Wimbledon champ, she was able to right the ship in the third set to advance. It sets up the 20th meeting between two of the sport’s biggest stars. Williams holds a 17-2 edge and has won the last 16 encounters.
Although she’s clearly failed to develop a successful game plan for these clashes, Sharapova is still looking forward to her latest chance to break the streak, according to Matt Cronin of Tennis Reporters:
The other half of the draw featured more upsets, so there were no top-10 seeds left standing heading into the quarterfinals.
That said, Muguruza is playing superb tennis right now. She’s swept through matchups with No. 5 seed Caroline Wozniacki and French Open semifinalist Timea Bacsinszky without dropping a set, giving her plenty of momentum heading into the final four.
Her power, combined with the quick grass surface, makes her a legitimate title threat. Pro coach Martyn Etheridge assessed the approach that’s made her successful:
Radwanska reached the quarterfinals in six of eight majors for a stretch ending with the 2014 Australian Open. She had gone quiet on the sport’s biggest stages since then, but now, she’s back after edging American Madison Keys in three sets. It showed she could beat a power player on grass.
Her return to form came at an ideal time and even caught her a bit off guard, as highlighted by Courtney Nguyen of SI Tennis:
On the men’s side, Djokovic and Kevin Anderson were forced to return after being deadlocked at two sets apiece as darkness fell on London Monday. It took another close, tense set, but the No. 1 seed was able to complete the five-set comeback to reach the quarters, where he’ll face Marin Cilic.
He explained just how difficult of a challenge it was, per Wimbledon:
Looking ahead, Day 9 will feature the men’s quarterfinals. Along with Djokovic working on short rest against Cilic, the other matchup on the top half of the draw features the perpetually overlooked Stan Wawrinka battling Richard Gasquet.
Roger Federer and Andy Murray have been on a collision course since the tournament started in the other half of the draw. Now, they are just one win each from making it reality. They are clear favorites against Gilles Simon and Vasek Pospisil, respectively.
Those eight players are just three wins from a Wimbledon title. In terms of motivation, it doesn’t get much bigger than that.