This is a live blog of the Wimbledon women’s semifinals. Hit refresh for updates throughout the two matches. Times are EDT.
11:40 a.m.: Well, of course this match would end with Maria Sharapova breaking Sabine Lisicki. In any event, Sharapova, the 2004 Wimbledon winner, is back in the final with a 6-4, 6-3 victory.
Sharapova, who hasn’t lost a set at the All England Club in this tournament, will play Petra Kvitova for the championship on Saturday. Just getting back to the final after seven years was an accomplishment for Sharapova, who underwent shoulder surgery three years ago and has had a number of injuries.
“To be in the final again is a great achievement for me,” Sharapova told the BBC, “but I still feel like I have a lot to do.”
11:37 a.m.: Really, Maria? Really? Lisicki breaks to cut the lead to 3-5 in the second set. Sharapova has, for the record, double faulted 12 times in this match. Gah.
11:32 a.m.: Maria Sharapova is serving for the match at 5-2 in the second set.
11:19 a.m.: The Radio Wimbledon people are talking about “naughty little tennis balls.” (Yes, I am also watching on the interwebs in the absence of live TV, but this is a different experience.)
11:14 a.m.: No sooner does Lisicki break to cut the lead to 3-1 than Sharapova breaks right back for a 4-1 lead. “Sterling play” is not going to be used to describe this semifinal, other than in this sentence.
11:08 a.m.: The rain holds off, Sharapova does not. She’s up 3-0 in the second set. At this point, you find yourself wondering what Sasha Vujacic thinks of the possibility of an NBA lockout. Sharapova is in such control, even she is probably wondering that.
Over at NBC, Kathie Lee is up a break on Hoda.
At ESPN, it looks like Tsonga may just pull the upset on Federer.
11:06 a.m.: Sharapova is up 2-0. Lisicki’s first serve has deserted her and she’s looking to the heavens hoping for some raindrops to delay the match. The court coverers have moved onto the side of the court, so she may get her wish.
10:57 a.m.: After trailing 0-3 in the first set, Sharapova roars back and wins it, 6-4...with an emphatic ace on set point. Radio Wimbledon points out that this match is not being televised in the Untied States, Germany, Spain...It’s like living in the ’40s, but thank heaven for Radio Wimbledon and the interwebs.
10:49 a.m.: Evidently, the “come on, Shazza!” worked as Sharapova, finding her comfort zone, breaks for a 5-4 lead. She compensated for early first-serve faults by reducing her unforced errors and now she’s settling in on serve — serving for the set — as well.
10:44 a.m.: Sharapova and Lisicki both hold serve for the first time, 4-4 in the first set. Someone in the crowd shouts, “Come on, Shazza!”
10:39 a.m.: Maria Sharapova holds serve for a 3-3 first set. It wasn’t pretty, with Sharapova double-faulting, but she seems to be gaining strength and settling in.
10:23 a.m.: Maria Sharapova, who seems to be very popular with the fellows, breaks back and it’s 3-2 with both parties on serve again in the first set.
10:23 a.m.: Sabine Lisicki, who beat French Open champ Li Na in the second round, jumps out to a quick 3-0 lead, going up a break in the first set against on Maria Sharapova . In the battle of big serve vs. best return, score one for Lisicki and big serve.
Thanks to the fine folks at NBC, who are just death to live events not spelled N-F-L, this is not being shown live. You can listen here.
9:55 a.m.: Petra Kvitova closes it out, beating Victoria Azarenka 6-1, 3-6, 6-2 and advancing to a final against the winner of the next semifinal between Maria Sharapova and Sabine Lisicki.
Kvitova was giggly and giddy over her first berth in the final of a major. “I’m so happy,” she said in a BBC interview, “and I don’t believe that I’m in the final at Wimbledon. I don’t know [dissolving into giggles].”
As her serve went, so did her game. “All match it was about serve,” she said, “so I’m happy that my serve was so good in the third set.”
9:53 a.m.: Kvitova’s erroneous forehand shot sails long, but Azarenka can’t stop her.
9:49 a.m.: Match point Kvitova.
9:49 a.m.: Kvitova holds serve and leads 5-2 in the third set. Can Azarenka hold on and make Kvitova serve for the match and a berth in her first major final?
9:46 a.m.: Azarenka displays some tenacity as she holds serve. 4-2 Kvitova.
9:39 a.m.: Kvitova holds serve for a 4-1 lead in the third set. The spectre of that French Open third-set is fading a bit.
9:35 a.m.: Victoria Azarenka takes a game and it’s 3-1 Kvitova.. This is the point at which it should be pointed out that Kvitova lost to Li Na in the French Open after having a 3-0 lead in the third set. (The score in that set was 6-3 for Li Na.)
9:29 a.m.: Kvitova 3-0. And she’s been as strong this set as that sounds.
9:23 a.m.: After holding serve to open the set, Petra Kvitova breaks Victoria Azarenka for a 2-0 lead. The first-set Kvitova has shown up, at least here at the outset. She’s hitting some strong, looping forehands and, win or lose, she’s in the driver’s seat.
9:20 a.m.: At this point, Azarenka is extending her shrieks into an aria. Does this bother you as much as it does me? Tell me about it below.
9:15 a.m.: Victoria Azarenka takes the second set, 6-3, and heads to the third against Petra Kvitova. Both players have had split-personalities so far ... who knows who’ll show up for the third set?
9:11 a.m.: Petra Kvitova hangs in there and holds serve. Azarenka 5-3.
9:08 a.m.: Mrs. Doubtfire — er, Azarenka — takes a 5-2 lead.
9:05 a.m.: Azarenka continues with the fluttery, fantods-esque shrieks that sound as if they belong to a Jane Austen character or Mrs. Doubtfire. Kvitova holds serve and Azarenka’s lead shrinks to 4-2. Big game here for Azarenka. And, yes, I deserve props for using the word “fantods.”
9 a.m.: Now returning serve better, Azarenka takes a 4-1 lead, with Kvitova still off her game. It’s as if they exchanged identities after the first set.
8:52 a.m.: Put any thoughts of a rout by Kvitova aside. Azarenka leads 3-0 in the second set. Azarenka, as did Tsonga on Wednesday, seems to have come out for the second set swinging far more freely. And now it’s Kvitova’s turn to lose it a little bit.
8:45 a.m.: And she does, going up 2-0 in the second set. It would do Petra Kvitova well to remember Roger Federer’s match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and how that turned out.
8:43 a.m.: Victoria Azarenka holds serve in the first game of the second set, but her shrieks have a fluttery, panicky sound to them. Somehow, she has to forget that the first set even happened.
8:39 a.m.: Nothing against Kvitova or Azarenka, but you know this match — and matchup — is not all it should be when ESPN cuts to a Dick Enberg feature on the Williams sisters between sets.
8:37 a.m.: Petra Kvitova is dominating Victoria Azarenka and wins the first set 6-1.
8:35 a.m.: Ten winners already for Kvitova, only four for Azarenka, who is playing very meekly. Kvitova is in control and goes up 5-1 in the first set.
8:31 a.m.: Both players, both 21, were jittery initially on Centre Court and Kvitova seems to have calmed, finding some consistency and eliminating errors — she leads the first set 4-1.seem to have calmed a bit.
8:28 a.m.: Mercifully, the alarm stops after a minute.
8:27 a.m.: Play was halted for a moment because an alarm — a fire alarm? — was sounding. Kvitova leads 3-1 and the alarm rings on. Which is louder than Azarenka, at least.
8:09 a.m.: Kvitova’s first serve goes into the net. Nerves? Jack Nicklaus — the Golden Bear in a golden necktie — and Robert Redford are watching. (What? No Pippa?)
7:48 a.m.: The women’s semifinals will begin shortly with Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic facing Victoria Azarenka of Belarus — she now lives in Arizona — in the first match and Maria Sharapova of Russia — and the world and every fashion magazine and advertisement ever — playing Sabine Lisicki of Germany in the second.
One thing about the semifinals is certain: Each will be loud. Sharapova is a serial grunter ever time she makes contact with the ball and Azarenka hit 95 decibels earlier in the tournament, drawing jeers and prompting Wimbledon officials to publicly wish that grunting could be banned. (A poll here earlier showed that most fans feel the same.)
“Your body is a machine a little bit,” Azarenka said. “So for me It’s perfectly natural now. I really have to exhale with that to move, to hit the shot. It’s just natural.”
Chris Evert and Pam Shriver are picking Azarenka to win the semi; Martina Navratilova had picked Kvitova, before the tourney began, to get to the final. Kvitova is trying to become the first left-handed women’s singles winner at Wimbledon since ... Navratilova.
Kvitova certainly brings important experience to her semi: she played in one last year. “It is good that I was in the semifinals last year. I have the experience and know how I was feeling.”
Azarenka and Kvitova have met four times before with each winning twice. They played in the round of 32 at Wimbledon last year, with Kvitova winning 7-5, 6-0.
Stamina may be an issue with Kvitova, who has retired from play because of injuries and ailments in four main-draw matches. When she keeps playing, she has won 38 of 48 matches.