Barty, Sabalenka head star-studded Wimbledon semifinal line-up

London, Jul 6 (EFE).- Australia’s Ashleigh Barty and Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka – the top two seeds in the Wimbledon women’s singles draw – charged into the semifinals with straight-set wins on Tuesday.

They are joined in the final four by Germany’s Angelique Kerber, a three-time Grand Slam champion who won this event in 2018, and Czech former world No. 1 Karolina Pliskova.

Pliskova was the first to advance, moving through with a comfortable 6-2, 6-2 win over Switzerland’s Viktorija Golubic on the No. 1 Court.

The Czech used her potent first serve and ground strokes to dominate the contest from start to finish, striking eight aces to Golubic’s none and also holding a big edge in winners (28-10).

The Swiss had used her slice backhand to frustrate big-hitting American Madison Keys in the round of 16, but she was unable to take Pliskova out of her comfort zone and did not register a single break of serve over the course of the one hour, 21-minute match.

In Tuesday’s second match on the No. 1 Court, Kerber was at her best once again in a 6-2, 6-3 victory over talented Czech Karolina Muchova.

A day after neutralizing the power of precocious American teenager Cori Gauff, the 33-year-old German used her counter-punching skill and grass-court knowhow to take down Muchova.

The Czech is a skillful all-court player who upset Barty to reach the Australian Open semifinals earlier this year, but she was unable to find many winning patterns against her experienced German opponent and donated far too many points with unforced errors (27 in total).

Muchova could have put up more of a fight but fared poorly on the big points, only managing to convert one of her eight break points and saving just two of the six break points she faced during the one hour, 15-minute match.

In Tuesday’s action on Centre Court, the fourth-ranked Sabalenka offered another display of the tennis that has catapulted her into the top five this year in a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur.

Striking the ball with awesome power but also impressive control, the Belarusian moved through largely on the strength of her better winning percentage on second-serve points.

Jabeur won just 29 percent of the points when missing her first serve in the first set and was broken when serving at 3-4.

The Tunisian broke Sabalenka’s serve for the first time in the third game of the second set, but her 33 percent winning percentage on second-serve points in that set – and two more lost service games – sealed her fate.

Barty was the last woman to book a semifinal berth and did so in impressive fashion, cruising past countrywoman Ajla Tomljanovic 6-1, 6-3.

The top-ranked Australian employed a strategy that included blocking back her opponent’s first serve, keeping the ball low with the slice backhand and dictating the rallies with her powerful and accurate topspin forehand.

The game plan worked to perfection for a set and a half, although Tomljanovic mounted a late comeback and came close to leveling the second set at 4-4.

Barty remained calm though to earn her sixth break of the match and take a 5-3 lead and then confidently serve out the victory, finishing off the win with an ace on match point.

The Australian will next take on Kerber on Thursday in an intriguing match-up of players who rely as much on ingenuity and variety of shot as power.

Sabalenka and Pliskova, two of the best ball-strikers in women’s tennis, will square off in the other semifinal.


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