Serena Williams reaches seventh Wimbledon final after beating Victoria Azarenka

 

Serena Williams booked her
place in a seventh Wimbledon final with one of the most bruising
demolitions seen on Centre Court in recent years.

The sixth-seeded four-time champion bludgeoned the highly-fancied second seed Victoria Azarenka off court with a scintillating display of serving and power hitting, seeing her off 6-3 7-6 (8/6) to stand just one win away from a possible fifth SW19 singles title.

She sent down 24 aces - one more than the Wimbledon record she set on Saturday - and landed 45 winners in a performance that even eclipsed the one she produced to dethrone defending champion Petra Kvitova at the quarter-final stage.

Agnieszka Radwanska now lies in wait for the 30-year-old who, after a fight back to form and fitness after almost a year out, is thrilled to be back on the big stage.

"I'm so excited, I really wanted this," she said.

"Vic is a great player, she played really well and I got tight at times in the second set, just looking too far ahead and getting excited.

"It got so close in that second set. I'm just happy to have got through that tie-break."

Belarusian Azarenka rarely had a look-in, often scrambling around behind a barrage of punishing shots, and while doing so she let out a series of high-pitched noises that brought laughter from the crowd.

The Australian Open champion had little to smile about, though, as she got nowhere near Williams' serve - the weapon that underpinned her victory over Kvitova - and offered her own up at a crucial point in the first set.

She did hold her own first service game to love, though, before Williams produced a devastating game with ball in hand, her opponent getting a racket on just one of four deliveries to come her way.

It was much of the same in the fifth game, Williams sending two further aces over the net, and she was gradually eating into Azarenka's serve too, taking three deuces in the sixth game and breaking it in the eighth.

She brought up two break points with a series of pounding winners from the baseline and when Azarenka brought her in on a drop shot, she cashed the first of them in with a backhand around the net before holding for the set.

During the change of ends, some members of the crowd unfairly began to mimimic Azarenka's on-court noises, but her shrills turned to shrieks in the third game of the second set when she tamely netted to give Williams two more break points.

Again she took the first of them, drilling a forehand return to the corner, before letting out a noise of her own, with a vocal 'come on' bringing the crowd to their feet.

The 13-slam winner was not having everything her own way, though, and was broken herself in the third game when she shanked a forehand at 30-40. She then had two immediate chances to break back, but spurned them, and then held serve to a tie-break.

It appeared that nothing was going to separate them in that as the scores got to 6-6 but, when Azarenka offered match point with a forehand into the net, Williams took it, sending down a 24th ace.

PA

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