Serena Williams battles into 11th Wimbledon semi and closes in on Angelique Kerber showdown

Serena Williams came from a set down to beat Camila Giorgi. (AFP)
Updated 10 July 2018
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Serena Williams battles into 11th Wimbledon semi and closes in on Angelique Kerber showdown

  • Eight-times champion comes from a set down to record 100th main draw win on grass
  • American will play Julia Goerges on Thursday

LONDON: Serena Williams survived a major scare before sealing her 11th Wimbledon semifinal appearance, while Angelique Kerber remains the seven-time champion’s main title rival after the German joined her in the last four on Tuesday.
Williams was in danger of a stunning quarter-final exit after world number 52 Camila Giorgi became the first player in this year’s tournament to take a set off the former world number one.
But Serena bludgeoned her way out of trouble, winning 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 to stay on course for an eighth All England Club triumph.
It was Serena’s 100th career main draw victory on grass.
The 36-year-old will play German 13th seed Julia Goerges on Thursday for a place in Saturday’s final.
“I knew after the first set, ‘all right, let’s go three sets’. I’ll just keep fighting,” Williams said.
“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.”
Serena is the first woman to reach a Grand Slam semifinal without facing a top 40 ranked opponent since 2013.
Williams is into the 35th Grand Slam semifinal of her career and her first since winning last year’s Australian Open.
Having shaken off the rust following her lengthy lay-off after the birth of her daughter Olympia in September, Williams is on the verge of a 10th Wimbledon final appearance.
Her path to the title has been wide open from early in the tournament as Garbine Muguruza, Maria Sharapova, Simona Halep, Petra Kvitova, Venus Williams, Caroline Wozniacki and Sloane Stephens have all been eliminated.
Williams, a 23-time major winner, is hoping to join a select group of women who have won Grand Slams after becoming mothers.
Goerges advanced to the Wimbledon semifinals for the first time with a 3-6, 7-5, 6-1 win against Dutch 20th seed Kiki Bertens.
Goerges had suffered five successive opening round defeats at the All England Club before this year.
It also took her until her 42nd Grand Slam appearance to finally get through to the last four at a major.
“It is a great opportunity to play Serena here where she has won so many times and is a great champion. I think everyone here has a great chance so you have to take it,” Goerges said.
With Kerber also in the last four, it is the first time two German woman have made the semifinals of a Grand Slam since Steffi Graf and Anke Huber at the 1993 French Open.
The carnage at the top leaves 11th seed Kerber — beaten by Serena in the 2016 Wimbledon final — as the highest ranked player left.
Kerber takes on Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko in the other semifinal.
The 30-year-old clinched her third appearance in the Wimbledon semifinals with a 6-3, 7-5 win over Russian 14th seed Daria Kasatkina
Kerber, who won the Australian and US Open titles in 2016, will be playing in the seventh Grand Slam semifinal of her career.
“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,” Kerber said after she finally sealed the win on her seventh match point.
Ostapenko is the first Latvian woman to reach a Wimbledon semifinal as the former French Open champion beat Dominika Cibulkova 7-5, 6-4.
Just four years ago, Ostapenko was winning the junior Wimbledon title and now the youngest player left in the women’s singles is only one win away from the final.
Ostapenko hasn’t dropped a set in her first five matches and the 12th seed said: “I’m just enjoying being here. I’m fighting until the end and I’m gaining more confidence.”
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Ahmed Barman out to toast Al-Ain success in FIFA Club World Cup

Updated 11 December 2018
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Ahmed Barman out to toast Al-Ain success in FIFA Club World Cup

  • Tournament gets under way on Wednesday when Al-Ain take on Team Wellington at home.
  • UAE midfielder sure his side can cause a few shocks.

LONDON: While he is only too aware of the quality opposition they have to face, Al-Ain midfielder Ahmed Barman is backing “The Boss” to scare a few teams in the FIFA Club World Cup.
The tournament gets under way when the UAE outfit face Team Wellington on their home ground in the opener today. Last year saw fellow Arabian Gulf League side Al-Jazira reach the semifinal where they gave Real Madrid a huge fright before narrowly losing 2-1. And inspired by that march to the last four, Barman is looking for Al-Ain to go one better and become the first Emirati side to make the final.
“The FIFA Club World Cup is a global competition coveted by every club,” Barman said. “Al-Ahli, Al-Jazira and Al-Wahda participated in this tournament before and did their part, putting the UAE on the world map. We at Al-Ain hope to reach the semi-final, as Al-Jazira did, or do even better.”
Before any tournament it is only natural to dream of glory and lifting the trophy in front of adoring fans. But the midfielder is not getting too cocky, revealing that despite having home advantage Al-Ain are taking absolutely nothing for granted, starting with Wednesday’s clash against the Kiwis.
“There’s no doubt that we’re aiming to reach the final and face a giant like Real Madrid, but first we have to focus on our opening match against Team Wellington,” the 24-year-old said.
“We need to win to progress from this round and play the subsequent games until we reach the final against Real Madrid and show a standard of play the UAE can be proud of.”
Barman is not anticipating an easy opener.
“Team Wellington are a very good team with considerable ability. They won their local league and the OFC Champions League, which proves they’re powerful.
“So, all our focus is on this opening match. We’re annualizing our opponents to understand their capabilities as we prepare to perform well on the pitch and get positive result.”
The UAE champions did not have the best preparation for their stab at Club World Cup glory, losing 5-2 to Al-Wasl in the UAE President’s Cup at the weekend.
That result, while clearly not ideal, has not bothered the side’s coach.
“We cannot win every game, what is gone is gone, it’s full concentration on the match ahead,” Zoran Mamic said.
“There are no rules that Al-Ain cannot lose games, that’s why I don’t make any drama.”
But while Barman was keen to invoke the memory of Al-Jazira’s march to the last four, his boss was less so, telling his team to focus on the match at hand before getting ahead of themselves.
“We are not here to talk about last year, just as we are not here to talk about the future,” the Croatian said. “We are here to represent the club in the best possible way. We focus on the match at hand and everything will take care of itself.”
Of today’s opponents he added: “We have watched all their games, we know their strengths and where they are not so strong. They are particularly good offensively, they play with fast wingers and a striker who is a good scorer, they play a system that is unusual to us because no teams in the Emirates play with three in the last line. If we do our job we will (have) a good match.”