JELENA OSTAPENKO HAS become the first Latvian woman to reach a Wimbledon semi-final, while Angelique Kerber booked her spot in the last four of the tournament for the third time in her career.
The former French Open champion Ostapenko defeated Dominika Cibulkova 7-5, 6-4 to go through to the semis.
Just four years ago, Ostapenko was winning the junior Wimbledon title and now the youngest player left in the women’s singles is only one win away from the final.
Ostapenko hasn’t dropped a set in her first five matches after the 12th seed battled past Slovakian world number 33 Cibulkova on Court One.
Speaking after her win, Ostapenko revealed she is playing with more freedom now she no longer has the pressure of defending the title in Paris, where she was knocked out in the first round last month.
“It’s really great to be in the semis. I’m just enjoying being here,” Ostapenko said.
“Dominika was playing great, but I’m fighting until the end and I’m gaining more confidence.”
Ostapenko also admitted she needed ice on her leg in between games after slapping herself with her hand in frustration at a missed chance.
“I hit myself when I missed a shot. It was too hard so I had to ice it,” she added.
Angelique Kerber clinched her third appearance in the Wimbledon semi-finals with a 6-3, 7-5 win over Russian 14th seed Daria Kasatkina on Tuesday.
Kerber is bidding to win the Wimbledon title for the first time after losing the 2016 final to Serena Williams.
The 30-year-old German remains on course after booking the seventh Grand Slam semi-final berth of her career.
“I was expecting a close match. We’ve played so many tough matches,” Kerber said after she finally sealed the win on her seventh match point.
“We both played on a really high level. I was just trying to stay focused on my serve. It’s great to be in the semis.
“She was moving me very much. I was not thinking too much about the match points. I was just trying to push myself until the limits actually.”
Kerber is seeded 11th and, after a week of shock defeats for her title rivals, that makes her the highest ranked woman left in the draw.
For the first time in the Open era, not a single top 10 seed has made the quarter-finals at one of the four Grand Slams.
Kerber beat Kasatkina on grass at Eastbourne two weeks ago and again she was in control, finishing off the first set with ease before landing an early break in the second.
21-year-old Kasatkina was making the first Grand Slam semi-final of her promising young career and she pushed Kerber hard in the closing stages before the German finally delivered the knockout blow.
Ostapenko and Kerber are now due to face-off in the Wimbledon semi-finals on Thursday.
Additional reporting by Sinéad Farrell
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