Conquerors of the Williams sisters bow out as Kvitova stakes claim

Even when they are no longer here, the Williams sisters cast a long shadow. Yesterday, both the women who had the temerity to send them home found they had inadequate reserves to deal with their next opponents.

Just like Marion Bartoli, Tsvetana Pironkova was confined in her quarter-final to salvaging dignity with an unexpected fightback from the brink in the second set. But she, too, had nothing left to give in the decider and was ultimately brushed aside by the No 8 seed, Petra Kvitova, 6-3, 6-7, 6-2.

Neither player had previously dropped a set in the tournament, but that seemed to be all they had in common as Kvitova hurtled into an early lead. Having been made to wait for three and a half hours by rain, the left-hander once again looked in a tearing hurry. Only one of her previous matches had taken as many as 65 minutes, and she broke Pironkova to love in the very first game with a series of violent forehands. She was soon 5-1 up and, though ceding one of her breaks, she had wrapped up the first set in 30 minutes.

To her credit, Pironkova regrouped in the second set and exploited a temporary loss in her intimidating opponent's rhythm to break in the fifth game. Kvitova responded impressively, winning her next service game to love and then proceeding to level, but still contrived to lose a 4-1 lead in the tie-break. Once again, however, she did not lose track of her underlying momentum.

Both players had made the last four last year, and Pironkova had got back on a roll after arriving with just four matches to her name in 2010. But she faltered again on break point in the first game of the deciding set, serving a double-fault, and Kvitova – vexed not to have polished off the job previously – overpowered her thereafter, sealing the issue with her ninth ace in 121 minutes. She had hit 54 winners, against just 10 from her opponent.

Kvitova has gained in composure and belief since meeting Serena Williams in the semi-final last year. Standing between her and the final is a woman appearing in the last four of a Grand Slam for the first time, Victoria Azarenka.

The Belarusian beat Tamira Paszek 6-3, 6-1 in a match transferred to Centre Court from Court One when the weather closed in after just one game. Azarenka had a couple of wobbles after opening up a 5-1 lead in the opening set, but really found her feet in the second with some voracious court coverage. At 21, she is a contemporary of both Kvitova and Sabine Lisicki. Perhaps the Williams sisters' shadow is only so long because the sun is finally setting.

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003