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  • Wimbledon, Day Eight

Serena hangs tough to reach quarters

ESPN staff
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Serena Williams defied the rain to book her place in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon with a hard-fought victory over Yaroslava Shvedova.

The No. 6 seed recovered from a second-set wobble to claim a 6-1 2-6 7-5 victory, completing the win as the rain set in on Court Two.

With showers delaying the start of play on Monday, Williams appeared to be in no mood to hang around as she raced through the opening set for the loss of a single game.

However, Shvedova, who played a 'perfect set' against Sara Errani on Saturday, bounced back, breaking for a 4-2 lead in the second set before grabbing a double break to clinch the opening set when Williams buried a forehand into the net.

With both players looking solid serve, it was the Kazakh who blinked first as the American broke for a 6-5 lead before sealing the victory with a backhand lob in an hour and 54 minutes.

Williams will face defending champion Petra Kvitova in a mouthwatering quarter-final match-up after the Czech rallied from a break down to beat former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone 4-6 7-5 6-1.

Kvitova appeared to be in some trouble as she found herself a set and a break down - having failed to convert her chances - she had ten break points - in the opening set.

In an identical vein to the opening set, Schiavone broke for a 2-1 lead, but Kvitova claimed her first break of the match to level. With Schiavone serving to stay in the second set, the players were interrupted by a brief rain delay, and when they returned to the court, Kvitova grabbed a break to forced a deciding set.

Schiavone was unhappy that play had resumed, complaining the grass was slippery, but she was forced to continue. Kvitova took full advantage of her opponent's reluctance to continue, grabbing an early break before streaking to a 5-0 lead.

Petra Kvitova hits a forehand © PA Photos
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The Italian held to avoid the third-set whitewash, but the result was never in doubt as Kvitova wrapped up the victory in two hours and 39 minutes.

Victoria Azarenka is on course to return to world No. 1 after she defeated Ana Ivanovic to reach the quarter-finals. Following Maria Sharapova's shock fourth-round exit at the hands of Sabine Lisicki, Azarenka flexed her muscles with a 6-1 6-0 victory over another former world No. 1 Ana Ivanovic.

Azarenka, who is looking to add a second major title to her Australian Open crown, will face Tamira Paszek in the quarter-finals after the Austrian continued her stunning run with a 6-2 6-2 win over Roberta Vinci. Paszek, who had just two wins from 15 tournaments before the grass-court season, reached the quarter-finals at the All England Club for the second consecutive year with a 6-2 6-2 victory.

Azarenka's return to top spot is not yet guaranteed, however - as third seed Agnieszka Radwanska continued her serene progress into the last eight as she ended Italian qualifier Camila Giorgi's giantkilling run.

Giorgi, ranked No. 145 in the world, had seen off Flavia Pennetta and Nadia Petrova en route to the fourth round, but was outclassed by the Pole, who eased to a 6-2 6-3 victory.

Radwanska will face Maria Kirilenko in the quarter-finals after the Russian held firm to claim a 6-1 6-7(6) 6-3 victory over Peng Shuai.

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