There are only eight women left in the Wimbledon draw. In some ways, order prevails: Former champions Venus and Serena Williams are still around, as is world number 1 Dinara Safina. Elena Dementieva, though she has never won a major, is also somewhat we would expect to see in a quarterfinal, and--at this point in her career--it is no surprise to see Victoria Azarenka in the last eight.
Here is how the draw breaks down:
Dinara Safina vs. Sabine Lisicki: Possibly to her own surprise, Safina is looking pretty comfortable on the grass. The same could be said of Lisicki, who--until this tournament--had never won a match on grass. It is notable that, in her round of 16 match, Lisicki cut out the excessive double-faulting, while retaining the positive parts of her impressive serve. Though Safina is capable of serving well, she is often hampered by inconsistency. Both players are excellent returners of serve, and both are good volleyers. There is every reason to think this will be a high-quality match. And while one might expect Lisicki to experience a major case of nerves, one might be wrong.
Venus Williams vs. Agnieszka Radwanska: Radwanska is a tricky, cerebral, instinctive player who is a delight to watch. I could go on and on about Radwanska's game, which I admire, but the hard truth is--Williams will demolish her serve. Radwanska has been not been serving very well at all lately, and unless she corrects that, Williams will make short work of her. It should be noted that Williams--though she is being quite coy about it--is having an issue with her knee.
Francesca Schiavone vs. Elena Dementieva: Who knew that this pairing would be part of the Wimbledon quarterfinals? These two talented veterans could provide us with a very entertaining match, to be sure. Dementieva made it to the semifinals last year; the farthest Schiavone has ever gone was the third round, and that was in 2003. The pressure is on Dementieva, whereas Schiavone is kind of a novelty quarterfinalist (and I don't mean that in a bad way). Enjoy!
Victoria Azarenka vs. Serena Williams: Talk about having history. Azarenka decisively took the first set off of Williams in their Australian Open match, but then she had to retire because of food poisoning (note to commentators--stop talking about Azarenka's vulnerability to heat illness "like she had in Australia"). When the two met in Miami, there was unfinished business, and Azarenka proceeded to finish it, upsetting Williams in straight sets in the final. Now they meet again, and the consensus among many fans and experts is that Azarenka is one of two players in the final eight who could defeat Williams. The other, of course, is her sister, the five-time Wimbledon champion. Azarenka is somewhat of a hothead, which could hurt her, and Williams--in her words--occasionally "goes crazy" toward the end of a major. Each of these players is likely to being out the best--and the worst--in each other. Williams appears to be on a course to meet her sister (again) in the final. Can Azarenka stop her?