Surprise finalist vs Serena at Wimbledon

Updated: 03 July 2010 17:17 IST

On one side of the net on Saturday will be Serena Williams, hoping to celebrate her 13th Grand Slam title. On the other side will be Russian Vera Zvonareva, pla

Surprise finalist vs Serena at Wimbledon

Wimbledon, England :

The contrast between the women's finalists at Wimbledon couldn't be greater.

On one side of the net on Saturday will be Serena Williams, hoping to celebrate her 13th Grand Slam title.

On the other side will be Russian Vera Zvonareva, playing in her first major final and trying to shake a reputation for temper tantrums and fading in big matches.

In a tournament filled with surprises, the success of the hard-hitting Russian ranks with the warm, dry weather. Long regarded as an underachiever prone to self-destruction, the No. 21-seeded Zvonareva beat former No. 1s Kim Clijsters and Jelena Jankovic en route to the final. She also teamed with Elena Vesnina to beat the top-ranked Williams sisters in the quarterfinals of doubles.

In her past two singles victories, Zvonareva rallied from a set down.

"Experience helps me a lot," said Zvonareva, 25. "I've been in a lot of different situations in the past of my career, and I think I know how to turn the matches around much better now."

She was once a teenage prodigy, reaching the French Open quarterfinals in 2003 at age 18. That was her best Grand Slam showing until last year, when she made the semifinals at the Australian Open.

Zvonareva has been known to sob on court even when she's winning, and she has broken more than a few rackets in anger.

"She was so emotional and would get down on herself," three-time Grand Slam champion Lindsay Davenport said. "Now she seems like one of the most composed players on the WTA Tour."

A turnaround in her results came unexpectedly. When Zvonareva arrived in London, she had lost five of her past seven matches, including a second-round defeat at the French Open and a first-round defeat in the grass-court warmup event at Eastbourne. Her ranking slipped to 21st from a career-high fifth in early 2009.

Now she gives Wimbledon a fresh face: This is the first final since 2007 that's not Williams vs. Williams. Five-time champion Venus lost in the quarterfinals.

"I guess the crowd should like that _ not another Williams-Williams," said their mother and coach, Oracene Price.

Zvonareva's the second-lowest ranked woman to make the Wimbledon final, while No. 1-ranked Serena is 12-3 in Grand Slam finals and seeking her fourth title at the All England Club. Zvonareva is 1-5 against Williams, with the only victory coming at Cincinnati four years ago.

"On paper it looks like I should win," Williams said.

Defending champion Williams has yet to drop a set in six rounds, thanks in large part to her dominating serve. She has been broken only three times while hitting a tournament-record 80 aces, and she has won nearly 90 percent of the points when her first serve is good.

"It's a very big advantage, I would say, especially here on the grass," Zvonareva said. "But I think if you can find the timing, you can return it. It's very difficult when she's serving well, but there are moments where she may not serve as well. You just have to use those chances. I haven't seen anyone make 100 percent of first serves."



Topics : Tennis Andy Roddick Lukas Dlouhy Rohan Bopanna Leander Paes Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi Maria Sharapova
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