Williams powers past Azarenka at Wimbledon

Serena Williams produced a vintage serving display to complete a 6-3 7-6 (8-6) win over besieged Belarusian Victoria Azarenka in their Wimbledon semi-final.


Williams will chase a fifth Wimbledon title against Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska on Saturday at the All-England club courtesy of a trademark display of power that took the feet away from Australian Open winner Azarenka, who did well to break back in forcing the match to a tie-break in the second set.

Williams threw down a record 24 aces in one hour and 36 minutes to bring her total to 85 for the tournament. She will start the final as a strong favourite against an opponent who is appearing in her first Grand Slam final.

World number three Radwanska became the first Pole to reach a Grand Slam final since 1937 after a 6-3 6-4 win over Angelique Kerber earlier in the day, but her final against Williams already looks to be a mismatch with a tennis heavyweight confronting a middleweight. If Williams emulates such a performance against Radwanska, she is likely to end the day with her 14th Grand Slam title.

She last lifted one of the four Grand Slams when she won at Wimbledon two years ago.

"I've been working so hard, I really wanted it," said Williams. "She was playing well and I got a little tight in the second set. I was looking too far in the future. I was so close, but I can't do that. I was happy to get through that second set tie-break."

Azarenka, officially the world's second best player but a distant second on the day, did not play badly against Williams, but just could not handle the heavier hitting of the 30-year-old American player, who is aiming to become the first thirtysomething winner of the women's trophy since Martina Navratilova defeated Zina Garrison in 1990.

All the stats fell in favour of Williams, who came up with 24 aces compared to one from Azeranka and 45 winners in response to only 14 from her opponent. The grunting Azarenka remains with only one win over Williams in their past nine meetings on the professional circuit.

Azarenka departed Centre Court in some pride in defeat. The Belarusian is assured of the world number one ranking if Williams downs Radwanska in the final. Barring injury or illness, that is as close to a certainty as rain falling over the weekend.

Radwanska has yet to win a set against Williams, but their past two meetings were four years ago in Berlin on clay and the Wimbledon quarter-finals.

Williams - watched by sister Venus - chose her break well in the first set as she moved 5-3 clear with a winner down the line on the run before clipping a throbbing return beyond Azarenka as the Belarusian had barely finished her service action.

Williams served out the first set with little fuss and looked good for a rapid return to the dressing room as another return bounded beyond Azarenka in breaking for a 2-1 lead that quickly become 3-1.

Despite being the lighter hitter, Azarenka never threw out an air of desolation as she somehow broke Williams in the sixth game of the second set with the American world number six tightening with the finishing line coming into view.

The pair traded games until the tie-break, but it was indicative of how the tide was swimming against her as Azarenka could only come up with her first ace of the match in the 11th game of the second set.

The tie-break was full of nervy happenings. None more so than when Williams attempted a drop shot and lob that both failed when holding her first match point on the Azarenka serve.

There was no such hesitancy on the second match point after Azarenka had emptied a backhand into the net at 6-6. Williams responded with an ace down the middle to complete her business for the day.

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