Venus crashes out as Serena, Clijsters target semis

Last Updated: Jun 29, 2010, 23:13 PM IST

London: Venus Williams crashed out of the
Wimbledon quarter-finals on Tuesday to the lowest-ranked player
left in the draw as her sister Serena and Kim Clijsters went
in search of semi-final spots.

Venus, a five-time Wimbledon champion and the world
number two, was knocked out 6-2, 6-3 by Bulgaria`s unseeded
Tsvetana Pironkova, the world number 82, who had never been
past the second round here before.

In Thursday`s semi-finals, Pironkova faces either Belgian
eighth seed Kim Clijsters or Russia`s 21st seed Vera
Zvonareva, who were disputing their quarter-final on Centre
Court.

Meanwhile defending champion and world number one Serena
Williams takes on Chinese ninth seed Li Na, and Petra Kvitova
of the Czech Republic faces Estonian qualifier Kaia Kanepi in
the other quarter-finals.

On winning the match, Pironkova fell to the grass in
delight, while Venus looked stunned as she trudged off Court
One.

"It seems like a dream actually. Coming here I never
thought I would play that well and reach that part of the
tournament. I am extremely happy," Pironkova said.

"I think I played pretty well today. I`m very happy with
my game. She also did well but I have one win over her and
actually thought I could win and I was going for it.”

"I really love this tournament. Every time when I come
here I enjoy it."

This year will be the first time Venus Williams has not
been in the final here since 2006. The American had made eight
of the last 10 women`s singles finals here.

Clijsters, the former world number one, has her sights
set on adding the Wimbledon title to her previous two Grand
Slam crowns, both won on the hard courts of New York.

The 27-year-old, a two-time Wimbledon semi-finalist,
said: "I have always had a lot of respect and admired
Wimbledon as a tournament. But in the past I have never had
that same comfortable feeling out there as I did on a hard
court in America or at the US Open.”

She was taking on Zvonareva, who in progressing to the
last eight has ensured that a Russian woman has reached the
quarter-finals at Wimbledon for nine straight years.

Serena Williams said she was expecting a battle from
Chinese number one Li, who has beaten her once and taken her
to tie breaks in all their other four clashes.

"I`m playing another tough player," the top seed said.

"Li Na always gives me a run for my money. I just have to
be positive and play more consistent.”

"She gives everyone a run for her money. She`s such a
tough player. She never gives up. Right when you think you
have her, she comes back. She`s a player you cannot count
out."

Li, having matched her best-ever Wimbledon run in
reaching the last eight, said she had every intention of going
one step further.

"Sure, I would like to keep going. I`m still in the
tournament. I don`t want to stop right now."

The surprise quarter-final is between world number 62
Kvitova and world number 80 Kanepi, who have one tour title
between them.

Aged 20, Kvitova is the youngest player left in the
women`s draw. She fell at the first round at her previous two
Wimbledons, and had never won on grass before going on this
run.

Kanepi had never been past the Wimbledon second round
before this year.

The 25-year-old is only the sixth qualifier to reach the
Wimbledon women`s quarter-finals.

"Kanepi is playing very well right now," Kvitova said.

"We played already three times. Two I lost and one I won.
It will be tough, but the match is open."

Kanepi, who has never won a tour title, is playing her
second Grand Slam quarter-final, having made the last eight at
the 2008 French Open.

Bureau Report