Scintillating Serena turns Vesnina dream into a nightmare


Elena Vesnina described the prospect of facing Serena Williams in the semi-finals of Wimbledon as a "dream come true" but the world number one subjected the surprise package to a nightmare on Thursday.

Doubles specialist Vesnina had never been beyond the fourth round of a grand slam in singles before piecing together a unexpected charge to the last four at the All England Club.

The unseeded Russian said she was struggling to get her head around her exploits following a quarter-final defeat of Dominika Cibulkova and the world number 50 still looked stunned as she was blown away by the defending champion.

While Vesnina is not accustomed to playing on such a stage, there was a sense it was just another day at the office for Williams, who was a class apart and coasted to a 6-2 6-0 victory in only 48 minutes.

Williams, who will face either her sister Venus or Angelique Kerber in the final on Saturday, was at her ruthless best as she shattered Vesnina's dream with a devastating demolition job.

Vesnina was in unchartered territory and looked lost as the world number one strolled to victory, leaving her just one win away from equalling Steffi Graf's Open-Era record of 22 grand slam titles.

There was nowhere to hide for Vesnina right from the start, with Williams crashing down a forehand winner with disdain on her way to breaking in the first game and stating her intent by belting down ace number one of 11 with her first serve.

A startled Vesnina shook her head as she attempted to catch her breath after being shellshocked by an onslaught from her vastly superior opponent, who strolled back to her seat as if she was taking a walk in the park.

The barrage continued until Ukraine-born Vesnina got on the board at 4-1, but the tide never looked like turning as Williams tormented the underdog.

A sympathetic crowd at SW19 raised the decibels when Vesnina won that game, yet the atmosphere was soon somewhat subdued as Williams went about her business all too easily.

The legendary American simply had too much knowhow, power, precision and quality in a one-sided contest that saw her move to the brink of a first major title since lifting the Venus Rosewater Dish aloft 12 months ago.

Six-time Wimbledon champion Williams wrapped up the first set in only 28 minutes and carried on where she left off in the second, with Vesnina looking increasingly despondent.

Williams completed her exhibition in a flash, leaving Vesnina facing sleepless nights.

To make matters worse, she must return to face the Williams sisters in the quarter-finals of the women's doubles later in the day, a prospect that looks all the more daunting after Serena's scintillating Centre Court show.