Serena eyes gold after reaching last four

Serena Williams will face world number one Victoria Azarenka in the Olympic semi-finals after the Wimbledon champion continued her relentless march towards a first singles gold medal on Thursday.

Serena, a two-time doubles gold medallist with sister Venus, looks in medal-winning form after crushing Danish eighth seed Caroline Wozniacki 6-0, 6-3 in the quarter-finals.

The American fourth seed claimed her magnificent 6-1, 6-0 demolition of Vera Zvonareva in the previous round of the Games topped any of her performances en route to her fifth Wimbledon title last month.

Ominously for Australian Open champion Azarenka, the 14-time Grand Slam winner was just as dominant against former world number one Wozniacki.

Serena has made it her goal to become just the second woman after German legend Steffi Graf to complete the Golden Slam of all four major titles and Olympic singles gold and few would bet against her achieving that target.

"I love playing Victoria. I have nothing to lose, she is world number one," said Serena, who defeated Azarenka in the Wimbledon semi-finals last month.

"That's what I love, playing when I have nothing to lose so there is no pressure. It's fun. No matter what happens I am in a medal round now so I'm excited."

Azarenka's progress to the last four was more painstaking as the Belarusian clinched a hard-fought 6-4, 7-5 victory against German seventh seed Angelique Kerber.

Belarus's Azarenka took one hour and 46 minutes to beat Kerber under the Centre Court roof and, with Serena up next, it was hardly surprising to hear she hasn't started dreaming of gold medal glory just yet.

"I just try to do my job and not really think about the future. If I'm playing well the result will take care of itself," she said.

"It's just a matter of trying to stay focused in the tournament. It still seems really far away and right now I just want to rest a little bit."

The other semi-final will be an all-Russian clash between world number three Maria Sharapova and 14th seed Maria Kirilenko.

Sharapova powered to a 6-2, 7-5 win over Kim Clijsters, ending the Belgian's medal challenge in her penultimate tournament before retiring for the second and final time after the US Open.

French Open champion Sharapova and former world number one Clijsters have eight Grand Slam titles between them, but both were competing in their first Olympics and they have been relishing every moment of it.

This was a frustrating way for Clijsters to say farewell to the All England Club, but she could have few complaints after being overpowered by Sharapova on Centre Court.

Kirilenko advanced to the last four after a surprise 7-6 (7/3), 6-3 victory over 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova.

Asked about her medal chances, Kirilenko said: "That's why I'm here. It's a dream. Of course with this kind of result I'm very happy."

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