That's it from Centre - but if you're online and in the UK you can still watch action on the outside courts via the video streams up above these words. Enjoy, and we'll reconvene for the eagerly-anticipated men's semi-finals on Friday.
Pat Cash on BBC Radio 5 live:
"It was a very high standard match other than the double faults of Sharapova - if she could cut those out, who knows. As for Lisicki - what a tournament and what a display of hitting. It's stressful out there, Sabine was disappointed at the end with the way she played, but she'll learn from it. She's come back from injury and she'll realise this has been a great tournament and she's shown she's a real threat now."
Bethanie Mattek-Sands on BBC Radio 5 live:
"Sabine had an awesome tournament - she's had an awesome grasscourt season period. Sharapova is looking good, she's played aggressively, even with the double faults today she returned well and is looking hot."
Very muted applause at the end of that from the crowd. They'll see better semis, but still. This from Maria with BBC Sport's Phil Jones: "It's amazing to be back in the final. It's been a while - I'm really happy, even through I didn't play my best tennis today. She played really well and I did quite the opposite - I remained really focused. I haven't gone past the fourth round for a few years, but I still feel I have nmore to do. Kvitova is a great player playing really good tennis - it'll be a good match, and I'm looking forward to it."
Sharapova 6-4 6-3 Lisicki
Shara cross-court for 15-30, another for two match points. First serve into the net, forehand... long. It's all over, Sharapova through to a final against Petra Kvitova. Ugly old match, but if it is all about the winning, she's made it.
Craig in Aberdeen via text on 81111
"How can Sharapova have 12 double faults and still the score line looks so comfortable!!"
Sharapova 6-4 5-3 Lisicki *
I'll be honest - it can. She can't buy a first serve, and even some enduring a nightmare as garish as Lisicki will eventually take some sort of advantage. A brace of winners off patsy second serves for 15-30, until - finally - an ace from Shara, just her second of the match. Dreadful volley into the net for 30-40, and this has been the sort of semi-final that could put you off tennis for months. Double-fault!
Sharapova 6-4 5-2 Lisicki *
If Sharapova does polish this off to move into the final, it would be the longest gap between Wimbledon finals in the Open era. Woeful volley at the net, but execution is stayed by a sizzling forehand winner cross-court. Surely Shara's serve can't be quite so abject again, can it?
Elliott in London via text on 81111
": "Is this the poorest Wimbledon semi-final in terms of quality? Worst I've seen that's for sure!"
Sharapova 6-4 5-1 Lisicki *
If we were to look ahead to a prospective final between Sharapova and Kvitova, you'd have to say that the Russian's serve would give the young Czech real hope. 11th double-fault, then a 12th - another break point. She'll save one with a brutal backhand but offer up another with a feeble second serve - first serve missed, second a gambling rocket, setting up a backhand winner down the line. "COME ON!" she screams, the noise echoing back off the high stands. "Come on Andy!" shouts one wag, to insolent titters. Lisicki hits a blistering return for deuce as the game ticks into its eighth minute, and then another to cancel out a Shara advantage. The Russian at under 50% on her first serve, but when Lisicki crashes another backhand long she is a single game away from her first Wimbledon final since 2004.
* Sharapova 6-4 4-1 Lisicki
Now then - can Lisicki make something of this? No - 0-15, oh dear, faling apart again. 0-40, three more break points, and the wildcard is finding it awfully tough out there. She saves one with a net-cord that sends a backhand going way wide suddenly sideways and into play and another with a crunching first serve, but the second serve is sitting up and asking to be spanked - it is, her follow-up is wide, and Sharapova is rampant.
Sharapova 6-4 3-1 Lisicki *
Lisicki wants a rain delay here. I'm not surprised. The umpire tells her to get on with it. Ninth double-fault from Sharapova for 0-30, great return off the next for 15-40. 10th double-fault, one break back. The standard could be higher.
* Sharapova 6-4 3-0 Lisicki
Which idiot claimed the rain was holding off? Drizzle in the air, and stormclouds for Lisicki - thunderous forehands down the line from Sharapova for three more break points - dear oh dear, double fault, and the German is in it deep. Two breaks gone; Shara has now won nine of the last 10 games.
Stu in Edinburgh via text on 81111:
"To Phil in London, clearly her socks are too long because she's had to keep pulling them up to have got this far."
Sharapova 6-4 2-0 Lisicki *
The rain holding off for now, although I'm told it's hosing it down just to the north in Wandsworth. Curiously quiet on Centre, the silence rather sympathetic. Shara cruising again at 4-15, only to throw in a brace of double-faults - eight now - but she holds again as the serve splutters into life.
* Sharapova 6-4 1-0 Lisicki FIRST SET
Dismal start to the second set from the German, double-faults following feeble backhands and distracted forehands into the net. Three break points, the first handed away with a double, and she is suddenly in deep, deep trouble. * denotes next server
Sharapova 6-4 Lisicki *
Shara has hit just three winners to Lisicki's eight, and made 10 unforced erors to the German's five, but sometimes the numbers don't add up - two set points as a forehand wrong-foots her opponent. Ace! The red-hot favourite has come from 3-0 down to win six of the next seven games and take the set. Lisicki has a squealing mountain to climb.
* Sharapova 5-4 Lisicki
Shara moving through the gears now after that lackadaisical start. At 30-30 Lisicki misses her first serve, and that spells trouble - forehand battered on the line for a break point, with a frightening return hot on its heels to steal it away. Seems a long time ago that the German had a point for 4-0, no?
Phil in London via text on 81111:
"I like the way Lisicki moves, very graceful & natural. But her socks are slightly too long. Shame - excellent performance otherwise."
Sharapova 4-4 Lisicki *
Farewell sun, hello wind. If you're on Henman Hill, you may want to prepare your cagoule. Super volleyed lob from Lisicki but it's her only ray of light in the game. 34 minutes gone, and we're level pegs.
Pat Cash on BBC Radio 5 live:
"Lisicki is playing a great all-round game. It'll be interesting to see how much of the drop shot she uses from now on. It was very effective in the last round against Marion Bartoli. It's been less successful today, so that means she might have to beat Sharapova at her own game, which I think she might be capable of."
* Sharapova 3-4 Lisicki
Bright sunshine floods the old arena. It might not last much longer - a glance skywards reveals a flotilla of black clouds dropping anchor overhead. Important hold for Lisicki, her best game in four - big serve, in behind it, running volley hooked into the opposite corner.
Former Wimbledon champion Lindsay Davenport on BBC One:
"Sharapova has really started to take advantage of the second serve, the weak link in Sabine Lisicki's game, and this will allow Sharapova to feel more comfortable after she surprisingly was the one who started off with the most nerves."
Sharapova 3-3 Lisicki *
Patterns starting to emerge in this contest. The Lisicki first serve is a potent weapon, the second serve a weakness; Shara's serve is yet to function fully, but her groundstrokes are finding their range and starting to take control when rallies develop. Three games on the bounce for the Russian, and the momentum is suddenly all hers.
* Sharapova 2-3 Lisicki
Lisicki is only the second wildcard to reach the Wimbledon semi-finals, but we shouldn't be entirely surprised; she's now won 15 of her last 16 matches on grass. Another one of those droppers - not working so far, into the net, and Shara will have a break-back point. Big serve down the middle... misses. The second serve is weak, the return is fiery, and Sharapova is right back in this.
Sharapova 1-3 Lisicki *
Sharapova landing just 56% of her first serve, and she's yet to win a single point on any of her second serves. Another first serve long at deuce, another second set into the net. Break point again for Lisicki, who can't quite believe the gifts she's being given here. First serve... long, challenged by Shara, and she's got away with that one. Lisicki throws in a daft forehand slicer of a drop-volley - worked a treat against Marion Bartoli in their quarter-final, but Shara is a lot more mobile than Barters. Kaboom! Blistering service return from Sabine for a clean winner, but finally Sharapova finds her range on the forehand to win a second-serve point. Is that the start of something for her?
* Sharapova 0-3 Lisicki
News from Court 18 - Britain's Liam Broady is into the semi-finals of the boy's singles after a battling 13-11 triumph in the third set. Good man. The German's splendid start continues, and she's not someone you want to hand an early break to - her serve is both fast and furious, not to mention phenomenally accurate. Four unforced errors from Shara already, and those are ugly numbers.
Sharapova 0-2 Lisicki *
Extraordinary start from Sharapova. Brilliant in her quarter-final, she begins here with a double-fault, goes loose and long in between and then ends with another. Broken to love, and if you saw that coming you're a wiser owl than I.
* Sharapova 0-1 Lisicki
Around 1600 tomorrow should do you. Schedule a 'meeting' on the road, pick up kids you don't have from school, go down with beri-beri or The Staggers - easy. Easy too for outsider Lisicki, holding with the confidence of a veteran to get herself straight into this semi.* denotes next server
Former Wimbledon champion Lindsay Davenport on BBC One:
"Maria Sharapova's experience stands her in good stead, she's been there and done it, including here at Wimbledon, but this is unchartered territory for Lisicki. The confidence started to come back for Lisicki in France after her ankle injury and now she has a ton of belief. She has the game for grass, with the big serve and big forehand."
Breaking news coming in of Friday's order of play: Andy Murray v Rafa Nadal will be the second
match on Centre after Novak Djokovic vs Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Start booking the "doctor's appointments" and "points failures" now.
Need a courtesy break? Cuppa? Chilled cucumber sandwich? Get busy - Sharapova and Lisicki are coming out on court.
Jana Novotna, the last Czech to reach the women's final in 1998, on BBC Radio 5 live:
"I'm so happy to be here and share this moment with another Czech tennis player in the women's final on Saturday. I'm so happy for Petra, she's a great person, a fantastic person. She was the better player today, Azarenka put up a good fight, but Kvitova was the deserved winner."
Annabel Croft on BBC Radio 5 live:
"I'm concerned because of how the match went, it was not as convincing as it set out to be. The first set was supreme for Kvitova, the firepower, the serve, the forehand was all working, but it all unravelled a bit. But Azarenka couldn't take advantage of it. You hope she comes out into the final and brings her A game."
40 winners for Kvitova today, just nine from Azarenka. The match in a statshell.
Kvitova can't quite believe it. She claps her hand over her mouth, but luckily takes it away again in time to say this to BBC's Phil Jones: "I can't say anything - I'm so happy. I started very well, and it was all about the serves in both sets so I'm very happy with mine in the third. I'm not thinking about the final too much yet."
Azarenka 1-6 6-3 2-6 Kvitova
Perfect - there's Martina Navratilova in the crowd, the greatest Czech-born player of them all. Richard Branson next to her, sporting exactly the same haircut. Perhaps they met in the barber's - I'll have what he's having. Aza under the cosh again at 30-30, and when a forehand finds the net Kvitova has her first match point. First serve... way long. Second serve... good, and Bad Kvitova frames an ugly forehand high and hopeless. Wide again from Aza - match point no.2... double-fault! Petra Kvitova into the Wimbledon final...
* Azarenka 1-6 6-3 2-5 Kvitova
38 winners now from Good Kvitova, 11 from the backhand - to 40-15 in a flash, pegged back to 40-30 as Aza flips a forehand into the corner to draw an error. Huge serve... nothing from Azarenka, and Kvitova is a single game away from her first ever Grand Slam final.
Azarenka 1-6 6-3 2-4 Kvitova *
Nerves start to sing, errors begin to creep in. Long from Kvits, into the net from Aza, 40-30. Wide again from Aza for deuce, and a hush falls over Centre. Thrashing serve, ad... and another! No double break, and with Bad Kvitova ever ready to take over from Good Kvitova, that leaves Azarenka very much alive.
* Azarenka 1-6 6-3 1-4 Kvitova
Now - is this the chance for the Belarussian? She's suddenly at 15-40 as Kvits starts to krumble, but that's gutsy stuff from the Czech - big serve, big serve again, and she's wriggled free. Ear-rattling shriek as she seals the point; winces from all present except Sir Cliff, resplendent in a green and purple striped jacket that makes him look a little like a tanned deckchair.
Azarenka 1-6 6-3 1-3 Kvitova *
Aza now the one under big pressure on every service game. When Kvits was missing she could hang onto the rally until the error came, but when they start biting line rather than the dust beyond she has almost no answer. 30-30, in more trouble... nope, Kvitradar awry again, two errors to give her a grip on a set that was sliding away.
Azarenka 1-6 6-3 0-2 Kvitova *
Thump, thump, thump, thump - the power of these groundstrokes has to be seen to be believed. Aza under the cosh now, wrong-footing her Czech opponent for one point but helpess in the face of the onslaught that follows - break point, forehand under pressure... long! Good Kvits has the break - can she now maintain it?
Tracy Austin on BBC One:
"Kvitova was patchy in that set but great self-coaching from Azarenka. She didn't get upset, which we have seen that in the past. There's a new maturity to her game and she played a consistent and solid set and stayed in her comfort zone."
* Azarenka 1-6 6-3 0-1 Kvitova
Kvitova dominated the first set, Azarenka the second. Which one will gain supremacy in the third? Good Kvitova takes charge from Bad Kvitova in her opening service game, winning it to love as that cunning serve slices away from Aza's desperate lunges.
Jana Novotna on BBC Radio 5 live:
"I really expected Petra Kvitova to run away with this after a flawless first set, but one game in the second set she lost her serve and everything turned around. It will be interesting to see how she handles it, but I'm hoping we will see the play that we did in the first set."
Annabel Croft on BBC Radio 5 live:
"I don't feel Azarenka did anything differently particularly. She doesn't have the same service power as her opponent and the start of this third set will be absolutely key."
Azarenka 1-6 6-3 Kvitova *
Azarenka 67% on her first serve, and is winning 67% of the points too when it lands. Not a single ace yet - Kvitova has landed eight - but her backhand is fearsome, thrashing again and again into the leftie's forehand side to force the error that seals the set. Match on.
* Azarenka 1-6 5-3 Kvitova
Coach Kotyza is back, just in time to see his athlete crash a leftie forehand down the line to hold to love. Aza will have to serve out the set. Can she hold nerve 'n' serve?
Azarenka 1-6 5-2 Kvitova *
The Kvitactics are relatively easy to understand: blast it and hope for the best. When they're landing, they're unplayable; when they're not, she's throwing the points away.
* Azarenka 1-6 4-2 Kvitova
Aza happy just to keep the ball in play here, knowing that Kvitova is much more likely to make an error first. Kvitova's coach David Kotyza has disappeared from the VIP seats, possibly to look for his charge's mojo. Every service game a battle, almost every one going to deuce.
Azarenka 1-6 4-1 Kvitova *
Blistering forehands from the back of the court, a frightening level of pace on those shots. Aza the one with the wand in her hand at the moment - Kvitova just three months over her 21st birthday, and you wonder if she has the experience to cope with this dramatic reversal of fortunes. Then again, Aza is hardly a grizzled veteran. The average age of this year's semi-finalists is 22 years and three months, the youngest at Wimbledon since 2003.
* Azarenka 1-6 3-1 Kvitova
Kvitova beat Azarenka here at Wimbledon a year ago, seeing her off in straight sets in the round of 32 with a 6-0 thumping in the second. Not this time. She finds an ace to see off a break point, but it's her second serve that is the problem; she's winning just 38% of points on it.
Annabel Croft on BBC Radio 5 live:
"We have a match on our hands. Azarenka has responded quickly and effectively, she's getting balls back into court very deep, and Kvitova has got her feet tied up and missed her first serve which has given Azarenka a chance. It's a different mood in the match."
Azarenka 1-6 3-0 Kvitova *
Azarenka making her first appearance in a Grand Slam semi, and she's finally settled - Kvitova is now the one on the wobble, clunking her seventh unforced error away with an unhappy shriek. She's hit 16 winners, but this is the other side of the coin - if you're going for that many shots, you're likely to miss a fair few too.
* Azarenka 1-6 2-0 Kvitova
They've met on four previous occasions, these two, with the victories shared at two apiece - perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that Azarenka is suddenly right back in this. She holds to love, Kvitova tightening up and now just missing the forehands that were landing spot-on just a few moments ago.
Simon in Reading via text on 81111:
"I have to say, if it's an Azarenka vs. Sharapova final I may well have to watch it on mute... Noisiest Wimbledon final ever?"
Tracy Austin on BBC Two:
"Coming into last year's Championships Kvitova was number 62 in the world and had never won a match previously before her run to the semi-finals, but she has now won three titles this year and is playing with belief, believing she belongs among the elite of the women's game."
Azarenka 1-6 1-0 Kvitova *
Well, that's a start - hold to love, the grunting going up a decibel. Helena Sukova there in the posh seats, lending some Czech support to her young compatriot.* denotes next server
Jana Novotna on BBC Radio 5 live:
"Kvitova is looking very good and Azarenka will have to change her game if she wants to get back into this. "
Annabel Croft on BBC Radio 5 live: FIRST SET
"What's being thrown at Azarenka is so venomous, so powerful and aggressive. Kvitova is on a roll and Azarenka has to unsettle that rhythm. She's not like Justine Henin, who can slice backhands and send in drop shots, but she has to alter the pattern of play. It is going to be tough."
* Azarenka 1-6 Kvitova
This is remarkable - the 21-year-old Czech is an entirely different player from a year ago, when Serena Williams wiped the floor with her at the same stage of the championships. To 40-0 with her 13th clean winner - just three unforced errors from her all set - and a blink later she's punching the air again as the set is sealed. 27 minutes gone, and what can Azarenka do to haul back the runaway train?
Azarenka 1-5 Kvitova *
If you've not seen Kvitova before, you could imagine her getting on the Tube at Covent Garden at rush-hour, wearing denim shorts, a red bandanna and a massive backpack, clutching an upside-down map of central London. She's blitzing Azarenka here too - there's just no living with the power of those groundstrokes.
Annabel Croft on BBC Radio 5 live:
"Azarenka had a lot of injuries and has been very dramatic on court - she pulled out with heatstroke at the Australian Open and at the US Open she left in a wheelchair with heatstroke. I've never seen anything like that on a tennis court. There's always a little bit of drama when she's on."
* Azarenka 1-4 Kvitova
Fire alarms going off on Centre. Ear-splitting, but at least it's drowning out the squeaky grunting of these two players. Kvits to 40-0 in a flash before the umpire calls a temporary halt and has a word in her walkie-talkie - ah, siren cessation a few moments later - but that's wonderful returning from Azarenka again and again, and she's back to deuce. Thumping forehands exchanged from the back - Aza blinks first, and the break is maintained. Spicy.
Jana Novotna on BBC Radio 5 live:
"We have talked about how grass courts have changed over the years,. Martina Navratilova said that they play differently to how they used to. It's very good for groundstrokes and Petra enjoys the speed of the grass and the bounce and she's getting used to it."
Azarenka 1-3 Kvitova *
Big hitting from Kvitova on her forehand - deep, so deep, and Aza can only watch as one fizzes into her backhand corner for two break points. The first is saved as a rattling serve is returned into the bottom of the net, but the sheer power and accuracy - bang on the baseline - of the Czech forces the error. First break of the day, celebrated with a clenched fist and narrowing of the eyes.
* Azarenka 1-2 Kvitova
Muted atmosphere around Centre after the fireworks from Tsonga and Murray on Wednesday. Grey clouds overhead, the forecast a little mixed, and the roof may be employed before too long. Kvitova landing less than half her first serves at the moment, but sweetly-driven forehands edge her back in front.
Azarenka 1-1 Kvitova *
Ann Jones, Martina Navratilova, Monica Seles. Not a bad trio. The Belarussian, hair tied back in a long, tight ponytail, starts her journey towards a possible 51st win in Grand Slam matches with a comfy hold.
* Azarenka 0-1 Kvitova
Kvitova to serve first, as she looks to become the first Czech to reach a Wimbledon final since Jana Novotna in 1998. She pops a volley into the net to offer up an early break point, saves it with elan and then uses that leftie serve out wide to coast home. Three other left-handed players have reached ladies' finals in the Open era here - name then before the next game. * denotes next server
Here come the two players - Centre Court filling up slowly. It is
that Robert Redford - I've just spotted him. And there's Barbara Windsor! "Oooh, 'ello Robert, I loved you in Butch Cassidy and The Sting. You and Paul Newman - wot a pair!" "Most kind, Babs. You were stunning in Carry On Camping. The chemistry between you and Bernard Breslaw - incendiary."
Cliff's guest? Gloria Hunniford. Oh to have a seat nearby. Dame Maggie Smith also due to drop in, as well as Jack Nicklaus and Mr Robert Redford. That
Just been handed the Royal Box list. One name leaps out of the page with ageless grace: Sir Clifford of Richard. It was only a matter of time.
Thank you, Mr Chris Bevan. I'm saying Azarenka in three, Sharapova in two. But only a fool would lay cash on my punts.
By Chris Bevan at Wimbledon
Right, the time for me to hand you over to Tom Fordyce, who will be taking you through both ladies' semi-finals. Enjoy and, seeing as Azarenka and Sharapova are both in town, don't forget to adjust the volume on your TV/computer when the matches start. Cheerio for now.
John McEnroe on the big-occasion experience factor for Maria Sharapova today:
"I think it gives her the decided edge, how overwhelmed will Lisicki be? It's the same with the other two semi-finalists, people have been waiting for Azarenka to come through. Sharapova is a major favourite."
A big crowd over on Court 15 too where Rafael Nadal has just started his knock-up. He's not holding back either, sending down a succession of thumping groundstrokes. Do his practice partners get to wear body armour?
What else is happening? Well, the sun is still shining brightly at SW19, but the really good news is that Sue Barker is now on air on BBC Two.
By the way,
our HD trial
continues today, showing both ladies' semi-finals.
It's still all about the baseline for Andy Murray in this practice session and they are upping the intensity now. After a lot of sliced backhands, Murray is now crashing down some cross-court forehands.
From Lawrence, via text:
"With Nadal losing that set to Fish yesterday and Tsonga being in blistering form on grass this term, I wouldn't be alone in thinking that the men's final could well be a rematch of this years Queen's final. With the steadily storming Murray coming through triumphant."
Court 17 filling up very quickly now as Murray starts cranking things up. I've seen Murray practicing pre-match a fair few occasions and he sometimes does very specific drills for certain opponents... Like a lot of service returns when he faces a big server like Ivan Ljubicic for example. Not sure what we are going to see today, though... because how do you prepare for Rafa? By knocking up with British doubles player Colin Fleming it seems. According to David Ornstein, he is the man on the other side of the net.
Murray is knocking up now. I'll keep a close eye on his groin - because of that injury scare, obviously - and see if it affects his movement around the court. All gentle stuff at the moment though, hitting forehands and backhands from the back of the court and getting into gear slowly.
Murray's doing his bungee rope work and a fair few stretches too. Not sure who he is knocking up with today yet, but our mystery man is still sitting down and watching the British number one being put through his paces.
I see Andy Murray has arrived on Court 17, but he is not doing very much at the moment... just putting his trainers on in fact. Here comes that bungee rope though...
In front of me on Centre Court, they are busy putting the net up in front of a few early arrivals who are already in their seats. For those of you needing a tennis fix, the outside courts are already up and running with Martina Hingis and Lindsay Davenport's match in the invitational doubles among the matches being shown on the Red Button and online stream. BBC Two's broadcast begins at 1230 BST.
F_Adam_39 on Twitter:
"Re 1105. For women's: Sharapova v Azarenka! For men's: Heart says Murray v Tsonga but head says Nadal v Djokovic!"
BBC Sport's David Ornstein has hot-footed it down to Court 17 to keep a close eye on Andy Murray's movements, and we will be keeping you updated on what the British number one is up to once his practice session starts at around 1200 BST. In case you were wondering,
the groin injury that Murray
picked up in his win over Feliciano Lopez yesterday does not appear to be a serious one.
From Ross, via text:
"Re anon. Saying Murray can't beat Nadal because he is a better player suggests that shock results are impossible, did you watch the Fed v Tsonga match yesterday?"
Have you lot heard of Hassan Ndayishimiye? Nope, me neither. So well worth checking out
Nick Hope's piece on the first player from Burundi to win a match at a Grand Slam.
"I can't believe it," the 16-year-old Ndayishimiye said on his first-round victory in the boys' singles. "It means a lot for me, my country and for kids back at home. I'm sure they're proud of me and hopefully it will inspire them to work hard too."
bitzymum on Twitter:
"Re 1105. I'm going for a Sharapova-Kvitova final, have from the start. For the boys, Murray-Tsonga."
admiralandrea on Twitter:
"Re 1105. I'm hoping it's not Sharapova v Azarenka in the final - the shrieking might break my TV!"
From Sensitive Ears in Birmingham, via text:
"Re 1105. I'm hoping that Kvitova gets through... really wouldn't mind if the final was on a week day and I had to rely on live text for the action but it's a weekend, forcing me to watch and I don't think my ears could cope with the weird noises from Azarenka!"
Even if Victoria Azarenka does get beaten today, don't expect her to go quietly. She's already claimed Maria Sharapova's crown as the noisiest tennis player at Wimbledon, and has managed to add length as well as volume to her shrieks. Funnily enough, you don't hear a peep out of Aza when she is warming up... but as soon as the match begins, it is time to reach for those ear plugs. I thought an owl was trapped under the Centre Court roof when she beat Daniela Hantuchova in round three.
From anon, via text:
"Re 1105. Unfortunately Murray plays a better player than him in Rafa and cant see him past him even on this occasion. he is a better player all round and the only way to beat him is if Rafa is injured."
From Will, via text:
"Re 1105. Lisicki to shock Sharapova in three straight sets and Kvitova to come through a five set thriller with Azarenka. You heard it here first."
Er, and last as well, hopefully. I don't want to embarrass Will in front of the nation, but the ladies only play best of three sets.
Former world number one Tracy Austin has given us her verdict on the ladies' semis in today's
"Sharapova is full of confidence," says Austin. "Lisicki has got a huge serve but she is going to have to really serve big to impose herself on this match." How about Kvitova-Azarenka? "Kvitova has the bigger weapons for grass, but it depends on how well she uses them."
Just under two hours until play begins on Centre Court, so a good time to start giving me your thoughts on which way today's semi-finals are going to go, as well as whether you think Murray can get past Rafa this time of course. Questions, questions...
I'm Chris Bevan,
and you can tweet me at
using the hashtag
please. Or feel free to text me via 81111 (UK)
We already know when and where Murray and Nadal will be practicing today (Murray at 1200 BST on Court 17 and Nadal at 1230 on Court 15) but who else will be out and about? Victoria Azarenka has already been down at Aorangi, and Maria Sharapova
will be arriving at 1130. It looks like Novak Djokovic might be having the day off but Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
has lined up a hit at 1500 BST.
You know a bit more about Pova-Lisicki now, but what about the 'other' ladies' semi-final, between fourth seed Victoria Azarenka
and eighth seed Petra Kvitova?
Azrenka is one win away from her first Wimbledon final, just three months after almost quitting tennis after losing in the first round of a tournament in Qatar. Her grandma soon talked her out of it, though. The 21-year-old says she told her to "shut up and stop complaining because I had a pretty damn good life".
From Huge Masha fan from Newport, via text:
"So excited for Maria today, I sense a second Wimbledon win and I couldn't be happier! She's yet to drop a set - phenomenal!"
Let's return to Andy Murray
now, who looks ahead to his mouth-watering clash with Rafael Nadal in
his latest exclusive BBC column.
How will he try to tackle the defending champ this time round? "Our last match was the semi-final of the French Open a few weeks ago and the switch to grass here does mean my tactics will change," said Murray. "His best shots on the clay will be different on grass and he'll have different patterns of play, so I need to take that on board before I go out on the court."
I've got some cracking stats on Lisicki, courtesy of
Sabine Lisicki's fastest serve at Wimbledon this year has been clocked at 124 mph.
To put this in perspective, Roger Federer's average first serve against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Wednesday was 114mph.
And only two wildcards have previously reached a Grand Slam women's singles final in the Open era. They are Kim Clijsters
(2009 US Open) and Justine Henin
(2010 Australian Open). Clijsters went on to win the title too. Lisicky to make it three? We shall see...
A bit of a story behind Sabine Lisicki's progress too. The big-hitting German also had a long time on the sidelines, with an ankle injury which was mis-diagnosed last year, but is in great form on grass. Can she continue her surprise progress: "I'm here as a wild card," said Lisicki. "I'm here in the semis. I'm going to go out there and fight and give it all I have."
Sharapova has not won a Grand Slam since she had surgery on a career-threatening shoulder injury in 2008, so how would winning Wimbledon this year compare to her three previous major victories? "It would absolutely mean more," said the 24-year-old fifth seed, who has not dropped a set so far this fortnight. I have been in a situation where I didn't know if I was ever going to play as a professional at a very high level again."
Fed will be back, I'm sure. Whether he will win again here is a different matter. Mind you, not so long ago, few people would have given Maria Sharapova any chance of winning a second Wimbledon title to go with the one she won as a 17-year-old in 2004. Now she's the bloomin' favourite...
Fed, for his part,
reckons he will return in 2012...
and he was also full of praise for flamboyant Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who will meet Novak Djokovic on Friday. "I'm healthy," said the 29-year-old Swiss superstar. "Even though I took a tough loss, I don't feel discouraged in any way. Jo played an amazing match, as good as I've seen him play for such a long period of time. I'll work harder than ever and hopefully come back extremely strong for Davis Cup next week and then the American summer again."
While Murray marches on, we will also be reflecting on that surprise Roger Federer defeat too. Will he be back to try again for a seventh crown next year? Boris Becker hopes so, but
he has his doubts.
"Who knows whether this is the end of the Swiss's era at the top of the men's game?" says Becker. "He is going to have a lot of thinking to do over the summer. Reaching the quarter-finals is not good enough for a six-time Wimbledon champion."
A bit more on Sears, who will be trying to help Ivanovic, currently ranked 18th, back into the top 10. During his time as head coach of women's tennis, five British women broke into the world's top 100, two made the top 50 and two girls (Laura Robson and Heather Watson) won junior grand slam titles. LTA chief executive Roger Draper said: "I would like to thank Nigel for his significant contribution to the LTA over the past four and a half years. Nigel has been instrumental in developing the player programmes for our most talented girls and women, and he leaves behind a real sense of confidence and optimism that we can look forward to a bright long-term future in the international game."
British number three Anne Keothavong on Twitter:
"Really sad Nigel Sears has decided to resign from his position as Head Coach of Women's Tennis. He's been one of the most influential people in my career and it's been a privilege to work with him. It's a loss for British Tennis and I wish him all the best working with Ana."
A bit of BREAKING NEWS
for you now. Nigel Sears has resigned as head coach of women's tennis for the Lawn Tennis Association in order to coach former world number one Ana Ivanovic,
As well as building up to those ladies' semis, which kick off at 1300 BST
with Azarenka-Kvitova on Centre Court, swiftly followed by Sharapova-Lisicki, we will of course be looking closely at Murray's prospects of reaching his first Wimbledon final, not to mention ending the 75-year wait for a British man's champion. There's been plenty of analysis of his impressive progress to the last four, including
from Tim Henman
who knows only too well what it is like to be involved at this stage at SW19. "The beauty of Andy Murray's progression to his third successive semi-final is that he still hasn't played his best tennis yet," says Tim. "Against Nadal, he has got to go out on Centre Court and play his game to the very highest level and show his aggression."
In BBC weather expert Carol Kirkwood's
words (or word, even), it is "gorgeous" at Wimbledon this morning. The sun is shining brightly on Centre Court as I type, and it's pretty busy out there - a team of groundstaff are trimming the grass and repainting the line markings. Will this weather last? No. Sorry. Kirkwood continues: "The sun is out now, but the forecast is cloud and there is a risk of showers in the afternoon and evening." Looks like that roof might be springing into action again, then...
Ah, 1984 Wimbledon Junior Girls' champion Annabel Croft is tipping Kvitova too - to reach the final at least. Croft has just spoken to Chris Hollins on BBC Breakfast,
and she is expecting a ding-dong battle in the other semi. "I'm backing Sharapova because of her experience, she is the only one of the four to have won a Grand Slam before," says Croft. "But her opponent Sabine Lisicki has lots of firepower from the back of the court, and she will get the crowd behind her too because she is always smiling on court. A lot will depend on how she handles the occasion."
Murray Mania is going to be building all day ahead of his rematch with the world number one and defending champion on Friday, but there is plenty of top-notch tennis to look forward to over the next few hours too. It's
ladies semi-final day,
featuring a resurgent Maria Sharapova, wildcard Sabine Lisicki, weird-noise maker Victoria Azarenka and my darkhorse, Petra Kvitova.
Hello folks. We've been here before, haven't we? Sitting pretty the morning after
charges into a Wimbledon semi-final against Rafael Nadal on the same day
crashed out in a shock quarterfinal defeat. It was the same story
12 months ago, actually...
but this year is going to be different, isn't it? Er, isn't it?