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Konta makes history; Muguruza, Williams in semis


Johanna Konta put in a spirited performance to beat Simona Halep 6-7(2), 7-6(5), 6-4.
 LONDON, July 12: Johanna Konta sealed a Wimbledon semifinal spot on Tuesday in a feast of tension-filled tennis, powering past Simona Halep 6-7(2), 7-6(5), 6-4 to become the first British woman to reach the last four after 39 years.

 The second-seeded Romanian shaded the early Centre Court exchanges, pouncing on errors and breaking serve to lead 3-0, as the Briton struggled to keep her searing groundstrokes in court.

But with cheers and cries of “C’mon Jo” echoing around the roofed-in arena, sixth seed Konta fought back, cranking up her serve and winning eight straight points to draw level at 4-4.

Halep won the first set on a tiebreak with Konta, having squandered a clutch of break points, returning the favour in the second.

The intensity moved up a notch in the third set as the Briton hit harder and the Romanian tightened her defence, before Konta broke in the fifth game and held her nerve to serve the match out.

Virginia Wade was the last British woman to reach the semifinals in 1978.

On the other hand, Garbine Muguruza advanced confidently into the semifinals with a well-controlled 6-3, 6-4 victory over Russian seventh seed Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Muguruza, the 2014 French Open champion who lost to Serena Williams in the Wimbledon final the following year, had just that bit more control in a hard-hitting baseline duel to follow up her victory over top seed Angelique Kerber on Monday.

Seeded 14th, Muguruza, saved a tricky break point on her second service game – the only one she faced all match – but roared back to break to love en route to taking the first set. Another early break in the second piled the pressure on Kuznetsova, the 32-year-old Russian with two Grand Slam titles to her name, and she was rarely able to threaten. Muguruza, who has reached the last four for the loss of one set, brought up match point with an ace down the middle and won it courtesy of another big serve to earn a semifinal meeting with Magdalena Rybarikova.

Venus Williams became the oldest Wimbledon semifinalist for 23 years as the five-time champion brushed aside French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko 6-3, 7-5.

Williams, 37, produced a 73-minute masterclass on Centre Court that made her the most senior player to reach the last four since Martina Navratilova in 1994.

The American star, an eight-time Wimbledon finalist, will play Britain’s Johanna Konta in Thursday’s semifinal.

World No. 11 Williams, beaten in this year’s Australian Open final, is chasing a first major title since winning Wimbledon in 2008.

Magdalena Rybarikova’s Cinderella story continued at Wimbledon on Tuesday, as she ousted No. 24 seed CoCo Vandeweghe in the quarterfinals, 6-3, 6-3 to reach the final four at a Grand Slam for the very first time.

The World No. 87 came into the tournament as perhaps the most in-form player of the grass court season – boasting a record on the lawns with two titles on the ITF Circuit on the surface – after returning from a lengthy injury layoff and dipping outside the world’s top 400 in the spring. – Agencies

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