Wimbledon QF Preview

At least one first-time Wimbledon semifinalist is assured. Will it be Victoria Azarenka, the highest seed left?

Published June 27, 2011 11:01

Wimbledon QF Preview
Victoria Azarenka

Tuesday, Quarterfinals

Centre Court
[9] Marion Bartoli (FRA #9) vs. [WC] Sabine Lisicki (GER #62)
Head-to-Head: Lisicki leads 2-1
As the saying goes, no rest for the wicked: 24 hours after scoring one of the biggest wins of her career, Bartoli must forget about her rousing defeat of Serena Williams and refocus on the next challenge. Like Bartoli, who of course warmed up with a title Eastbourne, Lisicki is undefeated on grass in 2011, thanks to her own superb run to the trophy at Birmingham. While the young German leads the pair's head-to-head, her two wins have come on green clay, both times at Charleston; Bartoli's win came on green grass, right here in SW19 (albeit three years ago). Normally, Lisicki's booming serve might be considered the winning factor, but if Bartoli delivers like she did against Serena (she out-aced the American) she'll hold her end of that particular bargain. The unorthodox Frenchwoman's ability to step right in on return - or not - could be the key.

[24] Dominika Cibulkova (SVK #24) vs. [5] Maria Sharapova (RUS #6)
Head-to-Head: Head-to-Head: Tied at 2-2
Cibulkova is the second highest ranked player yet to win a WTA title (after Peng). Wimbledon would be quite a stage for the 22-year-old to get the monkey off her back, but the way she played against Wozniacki in the last 16, it isn't such a silly notion. Still, she's up against the player many now consider the clear favorite for the title. Sharapova has experience on side, and a more imposing serve to kickstart points. But Cibulkova, at just 5'3" tall, moves around the court supremely well. Will that be enough to reel in the 2004 champion? She's done it before, winning their last two encounters (all four meetings have been on clay). If she keeps reeling off winners like she did yesterday - while keeping Sharapova on the run - she must stand a chance of becoming Slovakia's first Wimbledon semifinalist.

No.1 Court
[8] Petra Kvitova (CZE #8) vs. [32] Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL #33)
Head-to-Head: Kvitova leads 2-0
Leaving aside the obvious ranking point considerations, last year's surprise semifinalists must be very pleased by their respective runs so far. They've shown 2010 was no fluke - Pironkova beating Venus again, just to prove the point. What's more, neither has lost a set so far, and they are the two quarterfinalists who've spent least time on court. But the Bulgarian, whose four wins so far at these Championships can be added to the four she'd won all year, won't have failed to notice Kvitova's shocking fourth round demolition of Yanina Wickmayer, a match that barely took 45 minutes and left Wickmayer lamenting she didn't stand a chance. Both have momentum and Wimbledon magic on side, but Kvitova has had by far the better season. If her lefty serve is firing, she will be very hard to stop.

Tamira Paszek (AUT #80) vs. [4] Victoria Azarenka (BLR #5)
Head-to-Head: Azarenka leads 1-0
With the first-week focus falling on the return of the Williams sisters, the resurgence of Sharapova and Wozniacki's prospects for a maiden major, Azarenka has been somewhat overlooked as a title favorite. But with her fierce artillery the Belarusian bombshell has always had the makings of a Grand Slam champion, and at 21, she surely has the experience and maturity to go all the way. (When she reached the quarters here in 2009, no-one would have dreamed she'd still be bidding for a first Grand Slam semi two years later.) For her part Paszek, who was ranked as high as No.35 before a back injury got in the way, is making her Grand Slam quarterfinal debut - the first Austrian to reach the last eight at the All England Club since Judith Wiesner in 1996. Still only 20, she doesn't want for power and feistiness either. But has Azarenka's time come?

More to watch...
In third round doubles, Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond, the No.3 seeds, play Angelique Kerber and Christina McHale on Court 3. Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik, the No.2 seeds, tackle unseeded Cara Black and Shahar Peer on Court 12. Following on from that match, fourth-seeded Elena Vesnina and Sania Mirza - the runners-up at Roland Garros - take on Daniela Hantuchova and Agnieszka Radwanska, the No.13 seeds.

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