Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Konta, Venus to meet in rematch of Stanford final

Johanna Konta, playing in last year's U.S. Open, became the first
British woman to reach the Wimbledon semifinals since Virginia
Wade in 1978. Photo by Paul Bauman
   The Wimbledon semifinal between Johanna Konta and Venus Williams on Thursday will have a familiar feel for Northern California fans.
   Konta defeated Williams in three sets in the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford last July for her first WTA tour title.
   The sixth-seeded Konta, from Great Britain, edged the second-seeded Simona Halep, from Romania, 6-7 (2), 7-6 (5), 6-4 today to become the first British woman to reach the Wimbledon semis since Virginia Wade in 1978.
   Halep's loss ensures that Karolina Pliskova, a Czech who lost in the second round at Wimbledon, will replace Angelique Kerber at No. 1 when the new world rankings are released on Monday. Pliskova narrowly lost to Kerber in the 2015 Bank of the West final. Halep would have ascended to No. 1 with a victory.
   The 10th-seeded Williams eliminated 13th-seeded Jelena Ostapenko, a 20-year-old Latvian, 6-3, 7-5 in the previous match on Center Court.
   Williams, who has won five of her seven Grand Slam singles titles at Wimbledon, is the second-oldest woman to reach the semifinals there at 37 years, 29 days. Martina Navratilova was 37 years, 258 days old when she advanced to the 1994 final.
   Ostapenko shocked Halep to win the French Open last month for her first tour-level title.
   Williams was involved in a car accident near her home in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., last month in which a 79-year-old man later died. She broke down while trying to discuss the tragedy during a post-match news conference last week.
Venus Williams, practicing at the BNP Paribas
Open in Indian Wells in March, is the second-
oldest woman to reach the Wimbledon semis.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Neither Konta nor Williams is scheduled to play in this year's Bank of the West Classic, July 31-Aug. 6 at Stanford's Taube Family Tennis Stadium.
   In the other Wimbledon semifinal, 14th-seeded Garbine Muguruza of Spain will face unseeded Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia.
   Muguruza, the 2015 Wimbledon runner-up to Serena Williams, dismissed seventh-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia 6-3, 6-4.
   Rybarikova, who had never advanced to the second week of a Grand Slam tournament, outclassed 24th-seeded CoCo Vandeweghe, the runner-up to Serena Williams in the 2012 Bank of the West Classic, 6-3, 6-3.
   Rybarikova, 28, underwent wrist and knee surgery last year and fell to No. 453 earlier this year. She is now No. 87.
   Konta, 26, is 3-2 against Williams, 37. If the seventh-ranked Konta wins their first meeting on grass, she will become the fourth British woman to crack the top five.
   Konta was born to Hungarian parents in Sydney, Australia, moved to Great Britain at 14 and became a British citizen in May 2012.
   In boys singles at Wimbledon, Constantin Bittoun Kouzmine of France leads Northern California product Sam Riffice 7-6 (8), 3-2 in a second-round match that was suspended by rain.
   Riffice, 18, was born in Sacramento and lived in nearby Roseville until age 15, when he moved to Florida to train full-time with the USTA. Ranked ninth nationally in the 18s, Riffice has given a verbal commitment to the University of Florida for the fall of 2018.

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