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Wimbledon Women’s Semifinals Set Without Drama—And Without a Clear Favorite

Manic Monday was followed by tacit Tuesday at Wimbledon 2021. After a frenzied day of Round of 16 matches crammed, for the last time, into one session, Tuesday featured the women's quarterfinals. The results were absent a lot of drama and absent a lot of time. Four matches, four straight-set wins. There have been 12 players to reach the semifinals of majors this year on the women's side, and all 12 slots have been filled by different players.

On Tuesday at Wimbledon, we had a variety of old and new, but we're left with four players with different pedigrees and no real surprises. At the French Open a month ago, the four semifinalists came from outside the top 20. Here at Wimbledon, we have the top two seeds and two former No. 1 players. For most people, the money match was Ons Jabeur against Aryna Sabalenka, a contrast in styles between the crafty Tunisian and the hard-hitting world No. 2. On Tuesday, power trumped guile as Sabalenka simply hit through her opponent and reached the semifinal at a major for the first time. There she will face Karolina Pliskova, a former No. 1 player who has most recently fallen on hard times, almost as if the warranty on her career had run out. But she's found second life at Wimbledon. She looked terrific Tuesday, making quick work of Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland, winning in straight sets. The 29-year-old Pliskova is one of the few players to reach the No. 1 ranking without having won a major. And though she's now out of the top 10, she's four steps away from abandoning that distinction.

Karolina Pliskova-wimbledon

Speaking of former No. 1 players who have found second lives at Wimbledon: Angelique Kerber left the French Open with a losing match record for 2021 and murmurs that she was on the verge of retirement. Those have been silenced here. The 2018 champion continued her mastery of the grass, beating Karolína Muchová in two easy sets. The 33-year-old Kerber has a semifinal date against Ash Barty, who is the top seed and generally playing like it. In the first all-Australian quarterfinals match at a major since 1980 Wimbledon, when Evonne Goolagong beat Wendy Turnbull and went on to win the title, Barty beat Ajla Tomljanović to come within four sets of winning her first title at the All England Club.

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We talk all the time about the quality gaps in women's tennis and we are coming off a major won by an unseeded player. Here at Wimbledon, the four players left—and there's no obvious favorite—arrived here under different circumstances, but are equally deserving of this moment. 

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