WIMBLEDON -- No.31 seed Barbora Krejcikova came from 4-1 down in the second set to reach her first Wimbledon semifinal with a 6-4, 7-6(4) defeat of No.13 seed Jelena Ostapenko in 1 hour and 40 minutes.

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The Czech bounced back after failing to serve the match out at 5-4 in the second set to wrap up victory in the tiebreak. The result means that she advances to the last four of a Grand Slam for the second time in her career, and first since winning Roland Garros in 2021.

"Very tough match against Jelena," Krejcikova told the press later in the day. "Extremely happy that I got the win today, that I'm in the semifinals. I think it's a great, great achievement."

Krejcikova had lost the previous three matches she had played against Ostapenko, all in straight sets, and five of their seven prior encounters. Moreover, 2017 Roland Garros champion Ostapenko had been in formidable form this fortnight, dropping just 15 games en route to the last eight.

By contrast, Krejcikova had narrowly survived the longest match of the women's singles competition so far in the first round, a 7-6(4), 6-7(1), 7-5 marathon over Veronika Kudermetova in 3 hours and 14 minutes. But the former No.2 came out with an astute strategy and a clinical serving performance to blunt Ostapenko's power.

What tactics did Krejcikova use so effectively?

In previous encounters with Ostapenko, such as their clash in Rome last year, Krejcikova had attempted to go toe-to-toe with the Latvian from the baseline. This time, she took the pace out of her game, slowing the tempo and forcing Ostapenko to generate everything herself.

Krejcikova chipped and blocked the majority of her returns, and repeatedly deployed a floating forehand slice on defense to keep the point alive. This tactic paid off in key moments: leading 5-3 in the second-set tiebreak, Krejcikova used it to come out on top of a thrilling rally to reach her first match point.

Her slow-ball tactics also made her injections of pace all the more effective for coming out of leftfield. On multiple occasions, having reset the point with the forehand slice, Krejcikova would hammer a flat forehand crosscourt, catching Ostapenko out every time.

Krejcikova backed up this strategy with a formidable serving performance. This was especially the case in the first set. After opening her first service game with two double faults, Krejcikova missed just two more first serves in the remainder of the set -- and won all but one point behind the first delivery.

Where did Ostapenko's first-week form go?

Ostapenko's red-hot form to reach the quarterfinals had been the story of the tournament thus far. In the first set, she did little wrong, tallying seven winners to six unforced errors -- but there was little she could do against the Krejcikova serve.

Krejcikova's first-set standard proved unsustainable. Her first-serve percentage dipped to 68%, and Ostapenko took advantage to grab the first break for 3-1. After battling through a six-deuce game to hold for 4-1, Ostapenko seemed to have turned momentum in her favor.

But instead, Ostapenko dropped four straight games, beckoning Krejcikova back into the set with a pair of double faults at 4-2. Krejcikova wobbled serving at 5-4, conceding the game on a double fault, but by this point Ostapenko's accuracy was too wild to profit. She tallied 29 unforced errors to nine winners in the second set, and it was Krejcikova who gathered herself to play a more solid tiebreak.

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How important -- and unexpected -- was this run for Krejcikova?

Krejcikova's season to date had been marred by illness and injury. Following consecutive quarterfinal runs at the Australian Open and Abu Dhabi, she was sidelined for two months between February and April due to first a back injury, and then severe flu. Krejcikova came into Wimbledon having won just two matches in six tournaments since returning to action.

Those two matches had both come on the grass of Birmingham, where Krejcikova had snapped a five-match losing streak to reach the quarterfinals. That proved a significant confidence boost for a run this fortnight which saw Krejcikova first complete her set of quarterfinal showings at each Grand Slam, and now return to the last four of a major for the first time in over three years.

"It was super difficult," Krejcikova said, reflecting on her season. "It was very, very up and down, especially with all the illnesses that I had especially this year.

"I felt like I started well, especially in Australia where I did quarters. I was on a good roll. Then I don't know where just my body said differently. I'm extremely proud that I never give up and that I'm here, that I have the energy and the power to overcome this and to fight again and to play good tennis."

And despite her lower ranking, Krejcikova shouldn't necessarily be considered the underdog in the semifinals against No.4 seed Elena Rybakina. She leads her head-to-head against the 2022 Wimbledon champion 2-0, having won a pair of three-setters at the 2021 Grampians Trophy and in the 2022 Ostrava semifinals.

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