Thursday, July 1, 2010
Serena, Zvonareva in Wimbledon final
ESPN.com news services
WIMBLEDON, England -- Three-time champion Serena Williams has advanced to the final of Wimbledon after defeating unseeded Czech Petra Kvitova 7-6 (5), 6-2.
She'll face 21st-seeded Russian Vera Zvonareva of in the final. Zvonareva reached her first Grand Slam final by rallying to beat Tsvetana Pironkova in three sets.
The top-seeded Williams needed more than 90 minutes to overcome Kvitova, who was playing in her first Grand Slam semifinal.
Williams was broken in the fifth game of the first set but forced a tiebreaker after breaking back in the eighth game.
The American squandered two set points before winning the tiebreaker after racing to a 4-0 lead.
Williams converted her third match point in the second set after breaking Kvitova on consecutive occasions in the fifth and seventh games.
Zvonareva came back from a set down to beat the 82nd-ranked Bulgarian 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the day's first semifinal. She was in command after breaking in the sixth game of the second set, winning 10 of the last 13 games.
Zvonareva has battled a reputation for fading in big matches but held her nerve on the biggest stage in tennis.
Zvonareva became the second-lowest ranked player to make the Wimbledon women's final. In the process, she prevented Pironkova from becoming the first unseeded women's singles finalist at the All England Club.
"I'm very excited. I think I'm not realizing it at the moment," said Zvonareva, who wore a towel over her head during changeovers to maintain concentration. "It was very tough out there. She's a very young player but a very, very tough opponent and she started so well. I'm happy with the way I was able to hang in the match and able to turn it around."
The 25-year-old Zvonareva's previous best showing in a Grand Slam was a semifinal appearance at the 2009 Australian Open.
Pironkova, who stunned five-time champion Venus Williams in the quarterfinals, seemed in control after breaking Zvonareva in the sixth game and taking the first set in 32 minutes.
But the matched turned around completely after the Russian converted on her first break point to go up 4-2 in the second set. She came to net behind a forehand approach and put away a backhand winner for the break.
"I was thinking about what I got to do," Zvonareva said. "I've got to be a little bit quicker. I've got to play a little bit more aggressive. I was not thinking about that I lost the first set."
From the middle of the second set, Zvonareva dictated the pace and won six of seven games at one stage. She broke two more times in the third set and served out the match convincingly, finishing with an inside-out forehand winner.
Zvonareva had 31 winners and 13 unforced errors, while Pironkova had 23 winners and 16 errors.
Zvonareva has long been considered a top talent in the game, but someone who has failed to live up to her potential, even breaking into tears during matches.
"She was so emotional and would get down on herself, and now she seems like one of the most composed players on the WTA Tour," said former Wimbledon champion Lindsay Davenport. "For her it was a mental game, and so far it hasn't been a problem."