LONDON (Reuters) - Serena Williams came from behind to overcome Italian Camila Giorgi 3-6 6-3 6-4 in a tight quarter-final clash on Tuesday, as her bid for an eighth Wimbledon title gained momentum.
The American started the match slowly, losing the first set against an inspired opponent playing in her first major quarter-final, but fought back to beat Giorgi in one hour and 43 minutes on Centre Court.
Victory meant that Williams has now won 19 consecutive matches in the tournament she won in 2015 and 2016 but missed last year due to her pregnancy.
“I feel good, I felt like I did better today, I had to, but this is only my fourth tournament back so I don’t feel any pressure and have to win this,” said Williams, who gave birth to daughter Alexis Olympia last September.
“I’m here just to prove I’m back, and I feel like I’m back.”
Up next for the 23-time Grand Slam winner is German 13th seed Julia Goerges, who also overcame an early blip in her quarter-final match to defeat close friend Kiki Bertens 3-6 7-5 6-1.
Latvian Jelena Ostapenko, yet to lose a set in this year’s tournament, blew away Dominica Cibulkova 7-5 6-4 to become the first player from her country to reach a singles semi-final at the All England Club.
“I am fighting till the end and it helps me gain more confidence. It’s great to be in the semis,” said Ostapenko, the 2017 French Open champion.
The 21-year-old will fancy her chances in the semi-finals against former world number one Angelique Kerber, who needed seven match points to dismiss Russian Daria Kasatkina 6-3 7-5.
German 11th seed Kerber, the highest seeded player left in the women’s field, is targeting a maiden appearance in the Wimbledon final.
Highlights from day eight of the Wimbledon championships on Tuesday (times GMT):
1612 DJOKOVIC CAN STOP FEDERER AND NADAL - MURRAY
Briton Andy Murray, who pulled out of Wimbledon with a hip issue, said the in-form Novak Djokovic could prove a daunting prospect for Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal this year.
“I think Novak could beat both of them,” Murray, who is commentating for BBC, said when asked if the dominant top two seeds could be stopped.
“In terms of his level, he’s back where he wants to be. In terms of the mental side, he’s where he needs to be.”
Julia Goerges of Germany shrugged off the loss of the opening set to defeat Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands 3-6 7-5 6-1 in an hour and 57 minutes.
1544 SERENA WILLIAMS THROUGH TO SEMI-FINALS
Serena Williams extended her unbeaten run at Wimbledon to 19 matches, coming from behind to beat unseeded Italian Camila Giorgi 3-6 6-3 6-4.
Williams, seeking her eighth title at the All England Club, prevailed in an hour and 43 minutes.
“I don’t feel pressure. I’m here just to be here and prove that I’m back,” she said.
Frenchman Gilles Simon said Juan Martin del Potro could give second seed Rafa Nadal a tough challenge when they meet in the quarter-finals on Wednesday.
“He always has a chance. He already beat him (Nadal). He was able to beat all the top guys,” said Simon, who lost to the Argentine in the fourth round on Tuesday.
“That’s why people like to watch him play, because you feel something can happen. He has a lot of strengths in his game.”
1341 KERBER ADVANCES TO SEMI-FINALS IN STYLE
Angelique Kerber, a Wimbledon runner-up two years ago, moved into the last four with a 6-3 7-5 win against Russia’s Daria Kasatkina.
“We are in the semis now. I will have my ice bath like always and then a day off tomorrow and look forward to the next match,” Kerber said.
Jelena Ostapenko hardly broke sweat as she beat Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova and moved into the Wimbledon semi-finals for the first time. Ostapenko, seeded 12th, fired 33 winners to prevail in one hour and 22 minutes.
“I knew I had to play aggressive because if not otherwise she had all the opportunities to go for winners. I was just trying to go for the shots when I had to,” Ostapenko said.
The Latvian’s reward is a tussle with Kerber for a place in the final. “She’s great player. It’s going to be a battle. It’s going to be a tough match.”
1323 DEL POTRO OUTLASTS SIMON TO MAKE QUARTER-FINALS
Argentina’s fifth-seeded Juan Martin del Potro overcame Frenchman Gilles Simon 7-6(1) 7-6(5) 5-7 7-6(5) in four hours and 24 minutes to set up a quarter-final contest with Rafa Nadal on Wednesday. The fourth round match was suspended due to bad light on Monday with Del Potro leading by two sets to one.
Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris, Hugh Lawson and Kevin Liffey