TODAY'S FEATURED MATCHES
Women's semifinals; world rankings in parentheses:
Venus Williams (3) vs. Dinara Safina (1), Russia
Williams has played a brand of grass-court tennis so superb there have been moments when the stadium speakers ought to have played Mozart. Safina has conducted trademark raging battles with herself such that there've been moments when the stadium speakers ought to have played AC/DC. (Williams leads head to head, 2-1, with no previous Grand Slam meetings.)
Serena Williams (2) vs. Elena Dementieva (4), Russia
Of the 12 Grand Slam semifinal berths achieved so far this year in women's tennis, Russian players have claimed seven and Williamses have claimed three. That's figuring that Serena, who has looked glorious here, was actually joking last week when she said she'd been born in Russia but moved to Compton as a child. (Williams leads head to head, 5-4, and is 2-0 in Grand Slam meetings.)
Here at another Williams Wimbledon, a childhood chum reflected on the sisters. "It's tough for me to separate them from the girls I've known since I was 9," said Andy Roddick, who has advanced to the semifinals himself. "I just get real proud when I see them. I knew them when they were 10, 11 years old. To see the way they worked back then, you know, kind of seeing them reap the benefits now . . . I don't know how many times people have closed the door on them, they're still here and still kind of making Wimbledon theirs in a way. So it's pretty cool to see."
Having received encouraging notes from Queen Elizabeth II, Sean Connery and now Cliff Richard, with fellow Scot Ewan McGregor watching his match on Monday night and Kate Winslet watching two days later, Andy Murray fielded this question Wednesday: "Did you know that Miss Scotland was coming down to watch you?" (Note: He did not, but he knows Miss Scotland Katharine Brown from childhood in Dunblane, and he also had a dear friend watch him on Monday, and he said he's equally happy to have both watch even though "Miss Scotland, I know, is the angle you'll be going for.")
ALSO ON WEDNESDAY
Novak Djokovic, the only man besides Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal to win any of the last 17 Grand Slam events, confessed that his nerves have been staging unwelcome uprisings, as in his four-set quarterfinal loss to Tommy Haas. "I think I get nervous a little bit more than I used to," said a player who made the final four in six of seven Grand Slam events between the 2007 French Open and the 2008 U.S. Open, but none since. "And I guess that's probably pressure that I feel. But I shouldn't." . . . The Williams sisters won their doubles quarterfinal over Vania King of the U.S. and Anna-Lena Groenefeld of Germany, 6-2, 7-5, to earn a semifinal clash with the top-seeded team of Liezel Huber of the U.S. and Cara Black of Zimbabwe. . . . The U.S. males have two teams in the doubles semifinals as James Blake and Mardy Fish have turned up in the match opposite that of Bob and Mike Bryan.
STATISTIC OF THE DAY
74 for 85: Federer's (astounding) ratio of points in his service games against Ivo Karlovic, in a quarterfinal before which Karlovic's serve had drawn more attention because it had gone unbroken in 79 service games at Wimbledon (until Federer broke it twice).
QUOTE OF THE DAY
Federer, on the Williams sisters: "It seems when they're playing well that there's not much of a chance for the other guys -- girls."
-- Chuck Culpepper