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'Wild' Wimbledon to crown a new ladies' champion - Day 8

Na Li congratulates Agnieszka Radwanska on Centre Court.
by Nicholas McCarvel
Tuesday 2 July 2013

Come Saturday, there will be a new major champion in women's tennis. After big-time wins for Agnieszka Radwanska (over Li Na) and Kirsten Flipkens (against Petra Kvitova), none of the four remaining semi-finalists at Wimbledon own a Grand Slam trophy. We break down the biggest storylines of the day...

Match of the Day: [4] Agnieszka Radwanska def. [6] Li Na 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-2
It was a match that was interrupted twice by rain, but nothing could interrupt the pure and solid play of Agnieszka Radwanska, the 2012 runner-up bringing her best, consistent self in an entertaining affair with Li Na, downing the 2011 Roland Garros champion in three hard-fought sets. Radwanska's play was ultimate Aga: she bunted back Li's power with depth, kept the ball low and at times pace-less and made the Chinese No.1 work for every single winner. In the end it was the Pole who won, booking a spot in the semi-finals for the second time in two years and earning a spot against Sabine Lisicki, who backed up her massive win over Serena Williams with a convincing 6-3, 6-3 effort over Kaia Kanepi.

Honorary Match of the Day: [15] Marion Bartoli def. Sloane Stephens 6-4, 7-5
Mighty Marion just doesn't give up. Bartoli has had a rocky season leading into Wimbledon, registering a mediocre 15-13 record in the first five months of the season. But the 2007 finalist here has come good at The Championships, not dropping a set in five matches in her first semi-final appearance at a major since Roland Garros in 2011. The 28-year-old fought tooth and nail against the young American, particularly in the second set where she squandered a break late on, but then closed out the match with two straight games, drilling a baseline winner to send herself into the semi-finals.

Upset of the Day: [20] Kirsten Flipkens def. [8] Petra Kvitova 4-6, 6-2, 6-4
What do you get when you combine Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters? That'd be Kirsten Flipkens. It might not be the fairest comparison of all time, but Flipkens' all-court game has shades of Henin, the two-time Wimbledon champion, and she has worked on and off with Clijsters over the last year. Flipkens was steel-nerved in the final set against the 2011 Wimbledon champion, breaking for a 5-4 and then serving out her win with a fantastic, chalk-producing ace out wide, sending her into her first-ever Grand Slam semi-final.

Stat of the Day
With Li and Kvitova both losing on Tuesday, Wimbledon will see a first-time Grand Slam champion crowned at The Championships this year. Radwanska and Bartoli have both been in the final here - in 2012 and 2007, respectively - but none of the four semi-finalists have ever hoisted a major trophy.

Quote of the Day: Kirsten Flipkens on her first-ever major semi-final:
"It's ridiculous! Last year I didn't even get into qualifying. To be a semi-finalist at Wimbledon, it cannot be better. I was so calm on the court, I had nothing to lose and I just went for my shots ... I'm so, so happy, you cannot imagine. I don't know what to say ... Kim (Clijsters) was one of the few people still believing in me last year so I have to thank her. I'm just enjoying every moment. It's more than a dream."

Do we have a new serve-and-volley player in the women's game? Li Na came to the net 71 times in her quarter-final, and says she might continue to do so on hard courts:
"I think I will try to continue in hard court, as well, because I feel the pace now. I was feeling pretty good, so I think I should continue to do. I think this - how you say? - may be easy to win the point or is another challenge for yourself."

Also, Li kept her sense of humour on what's next for her:
Question: Are you going to stay around and watch the rest of the tournament or do you just want to get out of here?
Li Na: "I will get out of here as soon as possible (smiling). Maybe go shopping. Maybe go somewhere else. Just try relax a little bit, yeah."

Tweet of the Day: The recently-retired Kim Clijsters has worked on and off as a coach for Flipkens, and has been actively following the tennis at home while expecting a new baby.

Still drying my eyes :-)) So proud of how @FlipperKF handled the big occasion for the first time!

— Kim Clijsters (@Clijsterskim) July 2, 2013

Video of the Day: Centre Court as you've never seen it before. Really, this is amazing:

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