By David Goodman
LONDON (Reuters) - Former champion Petra Kvitova moved within one match of capturing a second Wimbledon title, ending the plucky resistance of Lucie Safarova 7-6 (6) 6-1 in their all-Czech showdown on Thursday.
Although few held out much hope of the 27-year-old Safarova beating her friend, having lost all five of their previous meetings, she had not lost a set en route to her first grand slam semi-final.
"It was a tough match mentally because Lucie is a great friend of mine, we know each other well off the court as well. I am just happy I won," sixth seed Kvitova, 24, told the BBC.
"I am very emotional but I have two days before the final to focus ... I know how it feels to lift that trophy so I will try my best to do it again."
After having her serve broken in the opening game, Safarova quickly settled into unfamiliar surroundings on Center Court, producing a series of venomous winners as the big-hitting left-handers slugged it out from the baseline.
The 23rd seed broke back in the fourth game and matched the powerful Kvitova every step of the way until the 2011 champion made the decisive breakthrough with a breathtaking cross-court forehand clinching a scintillating tie break.
Bloodied but unbowed, Safarova continued to attack at every opportunity but without the consistency required to unsettle her opponent.
Kvitova stepped up a gear to forge into a 3-0 lead in the second set.
Safarova stemmed the flow in the fourth game but by then Kvitova had her measure and continued the relentless barrage of fierce returns and passing shots to secure victory.
Standing in the way of her second Wimbledon crown will be the winner of the second semi-final between Romania's Simona Halep, the third seed, and 20-year-old Canadian Eugenie Bouchard, seeded 13th.
(Editing by Tony Jimenez)