LONDON (AP) — For the fourth year in a row, three women will divide the season's first three Grand Slam titles, no matter who winds up lifting the trophy at Wimbledon on Saturday.
So far in 2014, Li Na won the Australian Open, then lost in the first round at the French Open and the third round at the All England Club. Maria Sharapova won the French Open, but was beaten in the fourth round at the other two majors.
In Thursday's semifinals, No. 6-seeded Petra Kvitova will play No. 23 Lucie Safarova, before No. 3 Simona Halep faces No. 18 Eugenie Bouchard. Kvitova is the only member of that group who already owns a major championship: She won Wimbledon in 2011.
Here are five things to watch at Wimbledon in the women's semifinals:
HALEP VS. BOUCHARD: Halep won their only previous match, on a hard court at Indian Wells, Calif., in March. Halep is all about court coverage and finding angles; she won the French Open girls' title in 2008. Bouchard is a more powerful hitter who was the Wimbledon girls' champion in 2012. "Her style, it's dangerous on grass because she's playing very flat (shots)," Halep said. "She stays very close to the baseline, so she's playing fast.
HALEP: The Romanian's progression at tennis' four most important tournaments has been impressive. She had never been past the third round at a Grand Slam until last year, when she made it to the fourth round at the U.S. Open. Then she reached the quarterfinals at the Australian Open in January, and got to the final at the French Open last month. Including her five wins at Wimbledon so far, she is 18-3 at her last four majors (an .857 winning percentage) — after going 7-13 (.350) for her career before that. "It's tough to think that I can win a Grand Slam title, still," Halep said. "Doesn't matter if I was very close (at the) French Open."
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