Kvitova looking forward to locking horns with Safarova

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Fine form: Petra Kvitova believes she is playing her best tennis at this year's Wimbledon.

Petra Kvitova is the only remaining former grand slam champion in the women’s draw and the 2011 Wim­bledon winner takes a 5-0 head-to-head lead over her opponent in the semi-finals, Lu­cie Safarova.

It will be Kvitova’s third Czech opponent of the fortnight having already taken out Andrea Hlavackova in the first round and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova in the quarters.

Despite beating Safaro­va three times this year – in Doha, Madrid and Eastbourne – she’s ex­pecting a gruelling fight today.

“It’s going to be my third match against a Czech girl this Wimble­don, which is unusual. The last time we played was in Eastbourne. It was a big fight and I’m expecting a tough battle again,” said sixth-seeded Kvitova.

“She’s playing amaz­ing and she’s in the semi-finals, so it’s going to be a great match I think.”

Safarova will be playing the first grand slam semi-final of her career and it’s surprising it has come at Wimbledon – a tournament where she had lost in the first or second round for the past six years.

Kvitova however has made the quarter-finals or better for five con­secutive Wimbledons and admits she enters the last four with a huge amount of confidence.

“I’m aggressive, definitely more so than last year, or the previous tourna­ments. I just feel the grass and I know that it suits me well,” she said.

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Stan stunned by Federer’s fighting spirit

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Still going strong: Federer was happy to bury the ghost of last year’s Wimbledon defeat.

A year ago, Roger Federer had suffered a shock defeat to Sergiy Stakhovsky in the second round at Wimbledon.

Now, the Swiss is through to his ninth semi-final at the All England Club after over­coming his good friend and com­patriot Stan Wawrinka in four sets yesterday.

The victory – his 72nd here – saw him surpass Boris Becker to take sole ownership of second place on the list of most Open Era match wins at Wimbledon.

And even though Federer dropped his first ever set to Wawrinka at a major to go behind in their quarter-final, he fought back valiantly to seal the victory 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-4, 6-4 and enter his 35th career Grand Slam semi-final.

“There was a lot on the line today playing against Stan. Quar­ters sort of shows the direction on how you’re playing and all these things,” said Federer, who next fac­es Canada’s Milos Raonic.

“I’m really pleased to have come through. Last year was a major disappointment for me because I always see Wimbledon as one of my main goals of the season.

“I try to be in the best possible shape, so last year was rough. I was very disappointed. I went back to the practice courts, didn’t have any options left at that point.”

Wawrinka, playing for a third consecutive day after rain messed up his scheduled matches, had the better start and broke for a 3-1 lead in the opening set.

He saved a break point with a sublime volley to hold two games later and he hit a power­ful forehand winner to grab the set on his second chance.

The second set saw no breaks and it was Federer who opened up a 6-3 lead in the tiebreak.

The first two set points were saved but a fearless

Federer served and volleyed on his second serve to snatch the breaker and level the match.

Wawrinka asked for the trainer between sets and took some pills but wouldn’t reveal what was both­ering him after the match, refusing to give any excuses for his defeat.

Federer was clinical in the third set, hitting just one unforced error and he broke in the seventh game to get the lead he needed to clinch a two-sets-to-one lead and complet­ed the win on his fifth match point.

The seven-time Wimbledon champion later explained how tough it is to play and beat a good friend like Wawrinka.

“I was thinking about it midway through the match. I was like ‘oh, I’m playing Stan’. It hit me midway through the sec­ond set,” said Federer. “It goes in phases. You need some energy to push yourself. You don’t necessarily want to beat him, but you want to win.”

It was the first time in history two Swiss players featured in a Wimble­don quarter-finals.

Wawrinka was pushed to admit that playing three days in a row had taken its toll.

“I know it is tough to play three days in a row, especially when you play the third against Roger," said the world No.3, Wawrinka. "You have to be more than 100 per cent ready physically, but mentally also. It cost me a lot of energy at the beginning of the match to play at that level.”

Federer next faces Raonic, who became the first Canadian man to reach the semi-finals of a Grand Slam since 1923, by ending Nick Kyrgios’ dream run with a 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-4, 7-6(4) win.

The No8 seed struck 73 winners including 39 aces to defeat the 19-year-old Australian, who had upset Rafael Nadal in the previous round.

“I was struggling physically about halfway through the second set. I was feeling sore in a couple places,” said Kyrgios who conced­ed that his huge four-set win over Nadal the day before had an effect on the match.

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Djokovic fights back to defeat battling Cilic

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Never giving up: Djokovic trailed Cilic two sets to one but still triumphed.

It was a tense day at the All England Club yesterday.

Andy Murray had followed Rafael Nadal out of Wimbledon, and Novak Djokovic was trailing Marin Cilic by two sets to one while in his match, as Roger Federer went down a set to Stan Wawrinka.

Had Djokovic and Federer lost, it would have been the first time since the 2004 French Open that none of the ‘Big Four’ would have featured in the semi-finals of a Grand Slam.

Luckily for Djokovic, the Serb found some inner strength to turn things around against the big-hit­ting Cilic and defeat the Croat 6-1, 3-6, 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-2 to reach his 23rd Grand Slam semi-final.

“You go through difficult mo­ments, especially when you’re two sets to one down and playing in the quarters of a Grand Slam. It gets very emo­tional,” said Djokovic. “You’re fighting on the court and you try to be mentally strong and find that inner strength that can help you in those moments.”

Cilic saved 12 of 19 break points against Djokovic, who said the noise coming from Centre court – where Murray was losing to Djokovic's opponent in the next round, Grigor Dimitrov – was distracting.

“Both of us thought it was too much,” said Djokovic of the noise.

“But it is what it is. It’s kind of strange to feel so much noise coming from Centre Court but the crowd gets into it.

“I said to the chair umpire ‘let’s just stop the match, put it live on the big screen, and let’s watch it till they’re done. It’s going to be better for all of us’.”

On his part, Cilic was proud of his time at Wimbledon, where he beat the likes of Tomas Berdych en route to his first quarter-final at the competition.

“I’m very happy with these 10 days. I played very good tennis, maybe in some matches the best ever, so I’m very satisfied with that and am very positive for my next tourna­ments,” said Cilic.

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