No fewer than eight match points were required to see off the stubborn challenge of China’s best ever player, Li Na, but Agnieszka Radwanska finally achieved it to win 7-6, 4-6, 6-2 and reach her second successive semi-final here.
Twelve months ago she lost the final to Serena Williams, but she remains the highest surviving seed, at No 4, going into Thursday’s encounter with Sabine Lisicki.
It was a high-quality match with long rallies contributing to the duration of almost two and three quarter hours, although both women – especially Li, who did so some 70 times – were also prepared to come to the net. There were two breaks for rain and Radwanska called for a long spell of treatment to her thigh immediately after losing the second set. Li Na sat munching a banana and studying her notes during that period but was never in contention again, being broken immediately at the start of the third. From there on it was mere defiance.
Radwanska won the first set, though only because Li declined to challenge on a set point that Hawkeye showed she would have won. It was one of four, none of which she could take, and in a tie-break full of mini-breaks the Chinese was ahead 5-3, only to lose the next four points and fall behind.
Light rain started just as the set was decided, causing a 14-minute break. In the second set, Radwanska led 4-2 before Li broke back, took advantage of an outrageous three winners off the net in one game for 5-4 and then broke for the set, taking advantage of a weak 66mph serve.
Radwanska immediately called a medical time-out and came out for the final set with a heavily bandaged right thigh to break immediately. Play was suspended at 2-0 and Li was soon in trouble on her serve again, suffering a break point four times at 1-3 and failing to save the fourth one.
She would have hoped to get Radwanska running around the court but although the Pole complained of “too much tennis in the last few days”, her legs held up. Li’s serve was now suffering and there were two match points against her at 5-1, both saved.
Radwanska summoned the trainer again for a massage to both legs, then had six more match points. She was devising ever more frustrating ways to spurn them, including a double fault, but at last forced Li to hit long for a passage to the last four.
Marion Bartoli of France was an unpopular winner by 6-4, 7-5 over American youngster Sloane Stephens after she insisted on stopping play when light rain began on Court One. Bartoli was only a point away from taking the first set at the time.
An extraordinary second set then developed in which neither player could hold serve. After Bartoli did so in the opening game, there were eight successive breaks, Stephens suffering right to the end with another poor service game costing her the match.
Bartoli, seeded 15, will play Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium, the 20th seed and heiress to Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters, who defeated Petra Kvitova, the powerful Czech left-hander 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. Kvitova, the 2011 champion, appeared to be feeling unwell, needing attention after losing the second set.