Thu, 23 Jan 2020

London - Lukas Dlouhy, the coach of shock Wimbledon semi-finalist Barbora Strycova, hailed the veteran Czech on Wednesday as a player "who never quit", after making the last four at a Slam for the first time in 53 attempts.

The 33-year-old Strycova will face the greatest challenge in the sport on Thursday when she tackles seven-time champion Serena Williams for a place in the final.

It's a moment many in tennis thought would never come for the popular Strycova, who until this week had just one quarter-final place at the four majors to show for 16 years of hard toil on the tour.

"She always tried hard, she was always working at 100 percent, she never quit or did anything wrong," said Dlouhy, a former Grand Slam doubles champion at the French and US Opens in 2009.

"It doesn't matter when it was; the important thing is that it has happened and now she's in the semis."

Strycova is almost a throwback in tennis.

Just five feet, five inches (1.64 metres) tall and weighing in at 133 pounds (60 kilogrammes), she has sliced, served and volleyed her way into the semi-finals, five years after she went to the last-eight at the All England Club.

On her way to facing Williams, she has beaten four seeds, including fourth seed Kiki Bertens in the third round.

In the last-16, she was a set and 2-5 down to Elise Mertens, the 21st-seeded Belgian, before winning in three sets.

"We never thought of coming to make the finals at Wimbledon, we were not thinking that big," added Dlouhy.

"It's just one step at a time. Hopefully, we are not at the end yet."

Strycova has never defeated Williams, losing all three of their meetings in straight sets, including in the first round at Wimbledon in 2017.

"Yes, she had losses but Barbora was younger then. It's a different type of game and she's on top of hers," said Dlouhy.

Strycova's all-round grass court game has nonetheless left rivals bamboozled.

"I have never seen a player like Barbora who serves and volleys and covers the court like she does," added Dlouhy.

"Only Barbora can play the shots she plays.

"She's smart enough to do everything right and hopefully this will be the tournament where it all clicks.

"She's calmer than ever and playing better than ever."

Despite her poor record against the 37-year-old American, Dlouhy sees hope for his Czech compatriot.

Williams has fired a tournament-leading 41 aces at Wimbledon this year but has dropped serve 11 times.

"Serena is winning everything, but there's always a day when you can beat her. Hopefully, we can find a way on Thursday."

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