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.

Arts and Entertainment
Martin Amis: Taken to task over rash decisions and ill-judged statements
booksThe Zone of Interest just doesn't work, says James Runcie
Life and Style
life – it's not, says Rachel McKinnon
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
travelFrom Notting Hill Carnival to Zombeavers at FrightFest
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home