The women’s singles semifinals at Wimbledon on Thursday will be the first of a kind. Never before in the Open era has the line-up of four been devoid of a former Grand Slam champion.
It was the surprise package in the form of Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens that set this ‘record’ by knocking out 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova after Agnieszka Radwanska ended Li Na’s brave run.
Flipkens’ march to the last four illustrates a Wimbledon that is wide open following the shock upsets of the fancied players.
But the quarterfinal line-up also suggests the emergence of a new breed of women tennis players who are capable of competing at the top.
This is a refreshing contrast to men’s tennis, which continues to be dominated by the ‘Gang of Four’ (Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray). The first three have won 31 of the 33 previous Grand Slams.
They have also been far more consistent than the women — for instance Djokovic has made it to every one of the last 16 Grand Slam quarterfinals.
Sabine Lisicki, whose playing style reflects a no-holds-barred confidence, and the fourth-seeded Radwanska would probably qualify as the favourites to reach the summit clash.
But, given that this year’s Wimbledon has confounded predictions, it would be risky to rule out the aggressive two-handed Marion Bartoli or even Flipkens, who until yesterday was a Belgian unknown.