/ Tennis

Flipper KIrsten Flipkens knocks out Petra Kvitova to reach semis

Updated: Tuesday, 02 Jul 2013 19:51 | Comments

Kirsten Flipkins celebrates reaching the last four at Wimbledon
Kirsten Flipkins celebrates reaching the last four at Wimbledon

Kirsten Flipkens punched the air with delight after stunning former champion Petra Kvitova to move one step away from the Wimbledon final.

The Belgian won the girls' title ten years ago but has since struggled to translate her junior results into performances at the highest level.

However her moment looks to have arrived, and after a 4-6 6-3 6-4 win against the 2011 champion it will be Marion Bartoli of France next for the 27-year-old on Thursday.

Flipkens, cutting a distinctive figure in glasses and a white headband, with matching white taping on her left knee, savoured the Centre Court occasion and finished off with an ace.

The last glasses-wearing women's singles champion at Wimbledon was Martina Navratilova in 1990, and the furthest Flipkens has ever progressed at a grand slam before this tournament was her run to the fourth round of this year's Australian Open.

"It's amazing," she told the BBC, "more than a dream come true to be in the semi-finals of a grand slam, it's ridiculous.

"Last year I did not even get into the qualifying at Wimbledon. I was 260th in the world and today I am in the semi-finals of Wimbledon. It cannot be better.

"I still cannot believe it. I was so calm, I had nothing to lose, I just went for my shots. Petra was playing really well in the first set and I really had a lot of problems with the way she was playing and I just had to go for it from the second set on. I am so happy. You can't imagine."

There were shots so crunching from left-hander Kvitova in the early stages that it appeared she had recovered the game that overwhelmed Maria Sharapova in the 2011 final.

But there were also reminders of how Kvitova has struggled to build on her first grand slam title, with errors creeping in.

Kvitova broke in the fifth game but immediately dished away the advantage.

However a third successive break was to prove crucial, with Kvitova doing just enough to ahead a set in front.

It was the first set that Flipkens had dropped all tournament, after making snappy progress through the early rounds to reach this stage of Wimbledon for the first time.

She needed to find something special to prevent eighth seed Kvitova beating her in straight sets, and it transpired that she had it within her.

The key moment of the second set came in the sixth game when a smart lob volley from Flipkens gave her a break point against the Kvitova serve, and from the baseline the Czech then paddled a backhand into the net.

It gave Flipkens a 4-2 lead with the crucial break that she maintained, keeping her composure when Kvitova called on the doctor to assess an apparent ear problem after the seventh game and taking the set 6-3 to force a decider.

Kvitova was rattled, and possibly under the weather, putting the onus on Flipkens to dictate.

The third set went with serve until the ninth game when from 40-15 in front Kvitova was broken.

Suddenly Flipkens had the chance to serve for the match, and an ace brought up three points for it.

Two brutal backhands allowed Kvitova to save the first two, but another ace sealed a magnificent win.

Kvitova's challenge was doomed to failure, with Hawk-Eye showing the ball landed plum in the corner, and Flipkens could celebrate.

She fell to the ground in disbelief, she punched the air, and she blew kisses to her supporters in the players' box.

"I don't know what to say. I don't have tears, I am so happy I cannot imagine myself waking up," she said.

"It's unbelievable."

Her fellow Belgians, former world number ones Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin, never won the Wimbledon title despite being multiple grand slam champions elsewhere.

Flipkens thanked her good friend Clijsters, saying: "Kim was one of the few who believed in me and my sponsors, they kept believing in me. The people still believing in me, I can count on one hand.

"I am just enjoying every moment, I was so happy to be in the quarter-finals today for the first time so to be in the semi-finals it's more than a dream."

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