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Tennis: Kvitova hopes title triumph proves trump card

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Petra Kvitova believes her experience of winning the Wimbledon title three years ago could be the decisive factor when she faces Lucie Safarova in an all-Czech semi-final at the All England Club.

After a series of shock defeats for Serena Williams, Li Na and Maria Sharapova, sixth seed Kvitova is the only former Grand Slam winner left in the women's draw and that could a crucial advantage at the business end of the tournament.

Away from Wimbledon, the 24-year-old has struggled to sustain the brilliant form she showed in winning the her maiden Grand Slam crown in 2011 with a shock final victory over Sharapova.

But Kvitova comes alive on the grasscourts of south-west London, where her booming serve and powerful groundstrokes have made her a serious force.

Thursday's clash with Safarova will mark Kvitova's third appearance in the Wimbledon semi-finals and her fifth last-four match at the majors, while in contrast her opponent will be breaking new ground as she plays in her first Grand Slam last-four tie.

It is an advantage Kvitova hopes to exploit and she said: "Of course it can help me that I will know what I'm doing out there, how nervous I will be, these things. It's not a very typical experience (to be in a semi-final).

"Of course, to be in a semi-final of Wimbledon is always great for me. Especially when I won it here, I have great memories.

"It's feeling great. I mean, these feelings are always very emotional for me."

Kvitova and Safarova's advances to the semi-finals means there are two Czech women in the last four at a Grand Slam for the first time since Hana Mandlikova and Helena Sukova at the 1986 French Open.

The pair, both left-handers, are good pals, but having to put aside friendships while on court has become a familiar feeling for Kvitova at this year's tournament.

This will be her third meeting with a fellow Czech after her quarter-final victory over Barbora Zahlavova Strycova and a first round win against Andrea Hlavackova.

Recent form suggests Kvitova will once again prove the scourge of her compatriots.

Safarova has finally made it to the last four of a major at the 37th attempt.

But she has never beaten Kvitova in any of their five meetings, including on grass in Eastbourne last month.

"It's going to be my third match against Czech girl actually during the Wimbledon, which is unusual," Kvitova said.

"We played last time in Eastbourne. It was big fight until the end. I'm expecting a tough battle again.

"Of course, she's playing amazing. She's in the semi-final. It's going to be great match I think."

Kvitova has been in fine form, dropping just one set en route to the semi-finals and enjoying a memorable win in a titanic third round clash against five-time champion Venus Williams.

Her dominant displays at Wimbledon come in the midst of a year where she has other failed to impress, losing before by the third round at both the Australian and French Opens.

Asked if she could explains the disparity, Kvitova said: "It's tough to say. I'm aggressive definitely more than at the other tournaments. I just probably feel the grass.

"I know it suits me well and I can really play my best tennis on it. It gives me some more confidence.

"I'm just glad that I'm playing in the semi-final again."

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