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Wimbledon Women’s Semi-Final preview

With Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka and, most sensationally of all, Serena Williams failing to reach the final stages of Wimbledon this year, there is a wonderful chance for somebody from the supporting cast to step forward and take centre stage – the leading role is up for grabs.

Williams was 2/9 favourite before Sabine Lisicki knocked her out on Monday to throw the competition wide open and after yesterday’s quarter-finals all four of those left standing are given a realistic chance by Coral. Lisicki is now favourite at 6/5 ahead of Agnieszka at 11/4 and Marion Bartoli at 7/2 with Kirsten Flipkens the 13/2 outsider.

The engaging Lisicki has not stopped beaming since beating the five-times Wimbledon champion, but that euphoria might well have counted against her when she faced Kaia Kanepi just 24 hours later and it is to her credit that she produced an efficient display to beat the Estonian in straight sets, although in truth she didn’t need to be at her best.

She now meets Polish fourth seed Radwanski in a semi-final clash that many feel would grace the final. Lisicki has been a breath of fresh air in SW19 this fortnight, while Radwanski, last year’s runner-up and by far the highest-ranked girl in the last four, once again showed her class when beating Li Na in a high-quality three-setter.

This was a match that could have easily gone the other way and Radwanska needed eight match points to see off her stubborn Chinese opponent in the best game of the women’s tournament so far.

Perhaps those exertions will take their toll – Radwanska had both thighs strapped up after the game – and Lisicki does seem to be on an irresistible march towards the final, four years after she reached the quarter-finals as a 19-year-old. The German is 8/15 to win this and 11/8 to do so in straight sets.

Marion Bartoli, beaten by Venus Williams in the 2007 final, is the oldest of the final four, but looked as good as ever when seeing off the emerging American star, Sloane Stephens 6-4, 7-5.

The unorthodox French number one will now fancy her chances of reaching another Wimbledon final, but first needs to beat surprise packet, Kirsten Flipkens, and that might be tougher than the odds suggest.

There is no doubt that Flipkens was fortunate that her quarter-final opponent, Petra Kvitova, was below par with a virus, but even so one could not be anything but impressed with the way the bespectacled Belgian went about her business.

Girls who wear glasses can still make good passes, as Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova so expertly demonstrated, and Flipkens should not be discounted. Coral’s 11/8 to beat Bartoli tomorrow is tempting, as  is the 7-2 to win in three sets.

Written by Jon Freeman