WIMBLEDON, England --
• Before the tournament began,
While she didn't dominate Thursday, she did what was necessary to advance -- champions, they call this breed -- fending off a very game and poised Kvitova 7-6 (5), 6-2. The match was more competitive than fans had any right to expect, but Serena served well when she had to and cleverly picked on Kvitova's wayward forehand. Serena now stands within a match of winning still another major (she has 12), and thereby taking another step toward the
• This has been a week for updating the scouting reports on players.
Now 25, the Russian was the anti-choker Thursday. A solid favorite, Zvonareva lost the first set of the first semifinal to Bulgaria's Pironkova. If such a dismal performance on a big stage would once have inspired tears and self-loathing, Zvonareva simply placed a towel over her head on the changeover and recovered with poised, consistent tennis to win 3-6, 6-3, 6-2. She broke early in the second set and then rolled, controlling points (and her emotions) to reach the first Grand Slam final of her career. (As a bonus, Zvonareva plays clever, well-rounded tennis, an antidote to the homogenous "big babes.") She'll still be a huge underdog against Serena, but nice to see her fulfilling expectations and showing some self-belief.
"Experience helps me a lot," Zvonareva said after the match. "I've been in a lot of different situations in the past, and I think I know how to turn the matches around much better now. Even if something is not working, I know that I just have to take it one point at a time and just keep trying."
• Bring on
Murray has a stiff task, facing