LONDON // Agnieszka Radwanska defeated China's Li Na in an epic Wimbledon quarter-final on Tuesday between the highest seeds left standing.
The fourth seed, beaten by Serena Williams in last year's final, defeated the sixth seed 7-6, 4-6, 6-2 in a closely-fought two-hour, 43 minute contest on Centre Court.
It took Radwanska eight match points to see off the resilient Li in an entertaining clash where the 24-year-old Pole just had the edge over the 2011 French Open champion.
Radwanska plays German 23rd seed Sabine Lisicki - who beat defending champion Williams in the fourth round - in the semi-finals Thursday, ensuring at least one player of Polish descent in Saturday's final. Lisicki beat Estonian world No 46 Kaia Kanepi in straight sets in their quarter-final.
"She was playing unbelievable tennis," Radwanska said of Li. "I'm just very happy to have got through, even when I was struggling a little bit in the third set, I'm still very, very happy to be in the semi-final."
With world No 1 Williams, Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova and Sara Errani all out in the first week, Li and Radwanska were the highest-ranked players left.
In head-to-head matches between the pair, the Chinese was 6-4 ahead going into the match, and won their Australian Open quarter-final this year. Li ended up the beaten finalist in Melbourne
In the first set, Radwanska and Li fought a big tussle for the eighth game, which Li held for 4-4. The momentum was now with the Wuhan right-hander and she duly broke serve in the next game to serve for the set. However, Radwanska was able to stave off set point in a net duel and fought off three further set points, eventually breaking to level the scores.
That swung the momentum in the Pole's favour and she won the tie-break to seal the 65-minute set. Radwanska quickly broke for a 2-1 lead in the second set.
Li fashioned a break point right when she needed it, at 4-3 down, and won it to level the set at 4-4. She broke again to take the set.
In the third set, Radwanska broke for a 2-0 lead before the rain came again. With the roof closed, the Pole broke again for a 4-1 lead and then held serve to leave Li on the brink.
The Chinese held off match point twice on her serve and won the game.
The 23rd-seed Lisicki followed-up her shock defeat of Williams with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Kanepi to reach her second Wimbledon semi-final.
"It was an amazing match yesterday [against Williams], but I had to make sure that I had calmed down and was ready for today," said Lisicki.
"I have had experience of other years to help me. I also played the semi-finals in 2011 so that helped me be ready for today."
Flipkens send 2011 champion Kvitova packing
Kirsten Flipkens advanced to the semi-finals of Wimbledon at the expense of the 2011 women’s champion Petra Kvitova, while Sloane Stephens, the last-remaining hope for the United States in either draw, also bowed out
The Belgian 20th-seed Flipkens, right, held her nerve despite several rain delays to overcome the eighth-seeded Czech Kvitova 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Her opponent in the last four will be the 2007 runner-up Marion Bartoli of France, who dumped out the 17th-seed Stephens 6-4, 7-5.
Women’s quarter-final results
A Radwanska (4) bt Li Na (6) 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-2
K Flipkens (20) bt P Kvitova (8) 6-4, 3-6, 6-4
S Lisicki (23) bt K Kanepi 6-3, 6-3
M Bartoli (15) bt S Stephens (17) 6-4, 7-5
Thursday – semi-finals
A Radwanska (4) v S Lisicki (23)
K Flipkens (20) v Bartoli (15)
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