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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 21 July 2018

Serena Williams fights back to reach Wimbledon semi-finals

Former French Open champion became the Latvian to reach the Wimbledon singles semi-finals

Serena Williams is two wins away from her eighth Wimbledon title. Nic Bothma / EPA
Serena Williams is two wins away from her eighth Wimbledon title. Nic Bothma / EPA

Serena Williams insists she didn't feel any pressure in her Wimbledon quarter-final on Tuesday, despite needing to fight back from a set down to defeat Italian Camila Giorgi.

Williams, a seven-time Wimbledon champion, was in danger of a stunning exit after world No 52 Giorgi became the first player in this year's tournament to take a set off the former world No 1.

But Williams fought her way out of trouble to win 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 to set up a semi-final against Julia Georges after the German 13th seed defeated Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands 3-6, 7-5, 6-4.

"I knew after the first set, 'all right, let's go three sets'. I'll just keep fighting," Williams said. "I'm OK, I feel good, I feel like I did better today, I had to.

"This is only my fourth tournament back so I don't feel pressure, I don't feel I have to win this. I still have a long way to go to be where I was."

Jelena Ostapenko showed all her "fighting" qualities to defeat Slovakia's Dominika Cibulkova 7-5, 6-4 and become the first Latvian to reach the Wimbledon singles semi-finals.

Last year, Ostapenko broke onto the scene by winning the French Open as an unseeded 19-year-old, and she will need to get past German 11th seed Angelique Kerber on Thursday if she is to contest her second grand slam final.

"I am fighting till the end and it helps me gain more confidence. It's great to be in the semis," Ostapenko said.

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After more than a week of high temperatures, the players struggled to find their range on a chilly and blustery Court 1. Four of the first five games went against serve before 12th seed Ostapenko's game finally caught fire in the 11th game when she broke Cibulkova to love.

Two successive aces gave the 21-year-old the first set and she tightened her grip on the contest when she ended another flurry of breaks to go 4-2 up in the second.

Cibulkova did her best to try and hang on but the Slovakian was left chasing shadows as Ostapenko blasted a backhand winner on her first match point to reach the last four without dropping a set in this year's tournament.

Ostapenko will take on 2016 finalist Kerber, who came through a tough quarter-final 6-3, 7-5 against Russian 14th seed Daria Kasatkina.

"I was expecting a close match. We've played so many tough matches," said Kerber, who sealed the win on her seventh match point and is the highest seeded player remaining in the draw.

"We both played on a really high level. I was just trying to stay focused on my serve. It's great to be in the semis.

"She was moving me very much. I was not thinking too much about the match points. I was just trying to push myself until the limits actually."