Maria Sharapova advanced to the semifinals of the Wimbledon women’s championship for the first time since 2011 with a two-hour, 48-minute slugfest with powerful 23-year-old American Coco Vandeweghe on Centre Court at the All England Club on Tuesday.
Her reward is a Thursday match with Serena Williams, who has 16 consecutive wins over Sharapova and is 17-2 all-time in her career in that matchup.
Sharapova, in the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam event for the 10th consecutive tournament, lost one set to Vandeweghe, one of three American women in the quarterfinals. Sharapova is 20-3 in the quarterfinals following the 6-3, 6-7, 6-2 victory.
Williams again lost a set but won seven straight games at one stage against Victoria Azarenka to capture a 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 victory.
Williams finished with 12 unforced errors and 46 winners. She lost a set in her second-round match against Heather Watson, and lost a set in five of her seven matches while winning the French Open title earlier this year
“It’s been up and down, up and down, but somehow I’m still alive,” Williams said. “I don’t know how. I’m just happy to be still here.”
Williams wasn’t the only favorite that needed a rally.
Top-seeded Novak Djokovic was down two sets before coming back to beat big-serving South African Kevin Anderson, 6-7, 6-7, 6-1, 6-4, 7-5. The match had been suspended by darkness on Monday after four sets. Djokovic won the fifth set on Tuesday.
“This was one of the most difficult matches I’ve played at Wimbledon, maybe in my career,” Djokovic said.
Djokovic advanced to his 25th consecutive Grand Slam quarterfinals, the third-longest streak in the Open era (behind Roger Federer’s 36 and Jimmy Connors’ 27). Djokovic will face 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic in the semifinals on Wednesday.
The other women’s semifinal will pit No. 13 seed Agnieszka Radwanska against No. 20 seed Garbine Muguruza.
Radwanska beat American Madison Keys, 7-6, 3-6, 6-3, and Muguruza eliminated Timea Bacsinszky 7-5 6-3.