London: Holder Serena Williams and Russian Vera Zvonareva saw off challenges from youngsters Thursday to meet in the Wimbledon women’s final.
The top seed Williams will be bidding for a fourth trophy on the grass of SW19 Saturday after defeating 62nd-ranked Czech Petra Kvitova 7-6(5), 6-2.
Zvonareva posted a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 defeat of Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova, preventing an upset which would have seen the first unseeded finalist in history at the All England club.
Williams, who went down an early first-set break against Kvitova but got it back to take full control until the end of the one-hour, 23-minute win, claimed she never expected to reach the final.
‘It wasn’t easy, I worked hard,’ said the 12-time Grand Slam winner. ‘I didn’t expect to get this far considering how I started at beginning of the tournament. I’m happy to still be here.
‘Vera’s a great player, really tough. I feel like I have nothing to lose going into the final and neither does she.’
Zvonareva, who trails the series against Williams 2-5, is expecting to rise to the occasion on Saturday.
‘Serena is great player, defending champion, and very tough to play against. But I always believe in myself. I’ll just have to go out there and try to play my best, like I did in previous matches. We will see what’s going to happen then.’
Zvonareva’s best previous result at a major was the Australian Open semi-finals two years ago. The number 21 has been unable to maintain a place in the top 10 due to a lack of consistent results.
‘It’s one of my dreams to be out there on the Centre Court, and playing in the finals of Wimbledon,’ said the 21st-ranked Russian who once stood as high as fifth on the WTA.
I’m thinking too much about my final, but I’m sure when the tournament finishes, finally I will realise that one of my dreams came true.’
Pironkova, ranked 82nd, was bidding to become the first unseeded women’s finalist at the All England Club as she rode the confidence of a quarter-final knockout of five-time champion Venus Williams.
Pironkova had never played in any tournament final but had exploded into form at Wimbledon.
I tried my best, I tried every point, every game,’ said an upbeat Pironkova. ‘But she was playing very aggressive and she was pushing me all the time, and I just couldn’t do it.’
‘This is a huge experience for me,’ said the Bulgarian. ‘Reaching the semi-finals in Wimbledon, it’s like a dream. Of course I wanted to go to the final, but I guess didn’t happen this year.
‘I learned a lot, I learned that you just have to play relaxed. You just have to go for every point, to fight, never give up.’
Zvonareva was playing in her second semi-final at a major after Australia last year. The Williams win insure at least one of the two sisters placing in 10 of the last 11 Wimbledon finals. One or the other have won the trophy on eight of 10 occasions.