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Serena weathers chaos

WIMBLEDON, England — Serena Williams straightened out a very crooked women's Wimbledon quarterfinal Tuesday. It was only top-seeded and defending champion Serena's uncomplicated 7-5, 6-3 win over ninth-seeded Li Na that made sense.

Tsvetana Pironkova, a Bulgarian ranked 82nd in the world, considered herself surprised to have eliminated second-seeded and five-time champion Venus Williams 6-2, 6-3.

It was a thorough and unexpected beating and more surprising even than the exit of defending U.S. Open champion and eighth-seeded Kim Clijsters, who was put out by 21st-seeded Vera Zvonareva 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.

In the fourth quarterfinal, Kaia Kanepi avoided becoming the first Estonian woman to make the semifinals by failing to convert any of five match points and losing 4-6, 7-6 (8), 8-6 to unseeded Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic.

Serena Williams will play Kvitova in Thursday's semifinals while Zvonareva will meet Pironkova.

Venus seemed muddle-minded and with no sense of how to get out of her sudden tennis funk during the 85-minute match. The 30-year-old author (she released a book "Come To Win" this week) and clothing designer (she wears her own label, EleVen) seemed very far removed from her five Wimbledon titles.

"I think I missed all shots today," Venus said. "Forehand, volley, backhand. You know, if there was a shot to miss, I think I missed it."

But she also bristled at the suggestion that her motivation or desire for tennis might be diminishing.

"Why wouldn't I want to pursue this?" she said. "I'm pretty good at it most days."

Serena rocked and rolled with her 11 aces and only six unforced errors and that proved an untouchable combination of power and precision for the 28-year-old Li. And while Serena is often hard on herself, she admitted her serve has been a reliable companion so far this Wimbledon.

"I usually serve well here but this is the first time I've ever served this well so consistently here," she said.

Venus had nothing consistently go well against Pironkova. She committed 29 unforced errors and she hit her forehand with little conviction.

"I didn't do myself any favors," she said. "I felt like she played solid, but if I hadn't contributed to her effort, I'm not sure it would have gone as well."

Clijsters was disappointed in her lack of ability to pressure Zvonareva. The Russian is often a nervous finisher and Tuesday she would bury her head in a towel at each changeover.

"Vera served well at important points," Clijsters said, "but I never really made her work for it all that much."

dpucin@tribune.com

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