Serena defeats Azarenka in three sets to advance to Wimbledon semifinals

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Tuesday July 7th, 2015

LONDON – Follow along below for live updates of the Wimbledon 2015 quarterfinal matchup between No. 1 Serena Williams and No. 23 Victoria Azarenka.

Serena leads their head-to-head 16-3 but there's something about the match-up against Azarenka that puts her on edge. Azarenka has yet to lose a set or lose more than four games in a single set, booking her quarterfinal spot with a 6–2, 6–3 win over No. 30 Belinda Bencic on Monday. A two-time semifinalist at Wimbledon, the former No. 1 has pushed Serena to the brink in their last two matches. During the clay season, Azarenka had match points and could've handed Serena her first loss of the year in Madrid. Then at the French Open, she led by a set and a break before losing 3–6, 6–4, 6–2 in the third round. 

"The key is for me, I still need to find it because I haven't beat her in the Grand Slam," Azarenka said. "So for me, I still have to find that extra step to go a little bit further."

"I've had a couple of tough matches with Victoria," Serena said. "It doesn't matter who I play, I'm going to be ready. I'm going to have to be ready. She's due to win big and to do really well. Incidentally, so am I."

Serena is coming off her best performance of the tournament, a 6–4, 6–3 win over her sister Venus. Every aspect of Serena's game was firing on Monday and she showed why, even if she has not made it past the quarterfinals since 2012, she is always the favorite at Wimbledon. She fired 10 aces and 36 winners to just 13 unforced errors against Venus. Her return game, which should decide her match-up against Azarenka, was on fire. She got 70% of her returns back in play, zinging five for clean winners.

Serena Williams d. Victoria Azarenka 3–6, 6–2, 6–3 to advance to Wimbledon semifinals.

Set 3: Serena Williams, 6–3. 

For a second it looked like Azarenka's intensity and fight would pay off. She earned a break point in Serena's final service game but the American wipes it out with her 17th ace of the match. She then cleans it up and seals the match to book her first Wimbledon semifinal since 2012. She'll face No. 4 Maria Sharapova, against whom she has not lost in over a decade. 
 
Nice hug at the net between Serena and Azarenka. They battled hard out there and the intensity was through the roof. 
 
The women's semifinals are now set for Thursday:
 
Serena Williams vs. Maria Sharapova
Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Garbine Muguruza

6:37 p.m.,Serena holds, leads 5-2*.

Serena pushes her stat-line to 41 winners and 9 unforced errors, with 14 aces to boot. As Azarenka scraps to protect her serve and hold to keep within shouting distance, Serena calmly fires three aces and puts away a forehand to hold serve in one minute and 15 seconds. Federer-esque. 

6:29 p.m., Serena holds, leads 4-1*.

Azarenka is trying to pump herself up. After fighting through a deuce game to hold to 1-3, she screams at herself to keep fighting. The shouts of "Fight!" and "Come on!" keep going even after the crowd noise dies down and you know Serena can hear it all. Her response? Four near-perfect serves and a love service hold, all while yelling "Come on!" after each. 

6:24 p.m., Serena breaks and leads 3-0*.

That's seven straight games to Serena. The errors are coming more frequently off Azarenka's racket and Serena is dialed in. This final set could go quick. Serena has over 30 winners already in the match. 

Set 2: Serena Williams, 6-2.

[tweet=https://twitter.com/Wimbledon/status/618467323012349953]

Shaun Botteril/Getty Images)
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
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