When Elina Svitolina, Sofia Kenin and Victoria Azarenka followed Serena Williams, Belinda Bencic and Petra Kvitova out of the exit door at Wimbledon before the third round began, all the usual stories about the seeded players crashing out of the women’s draw early started popping up all over the news feeds of major publications.
However, anyone who looked at these articles and feared for the quality of the Ladies’ Singles event at Wimbledon 2021 need not have worried, as Tuesday’s quarter-finals demonstrated.
Three of the top ten seeds – Ashleigh Barty, Aryna Sabalenka and Karolina Pliskova – produced superb performances to secure relatively straightforward progress to the last four. 2018 champion Angelique Kerber joins them. She dispatched Karolina Muchova 6-2 6-3 to complete a brilliant semi-final line-up.
Kerber Faces Fascinating Barty Clash
The German will have to prepare for a really difficult task. She faces World No.1 Barty, who has finally broken her quarter-final duck at SW19 and now looks well set to win her first Wimbledon title.
The Australian was in commanding form in the last eight. She took the first set 6-1 against compatriot Alja Tomljanovic in just 25 minutes. Then she brushed aside a minor fightback from her opponent to win the second set 6-3.
Despite her excellent form, Barty will be very wary of Kerber. The German is the only former champion still in the draw. And she has caused the World No.1 plenty of problems in their previous meetings, as their 2-2 head-to-head record suggests.
Furthermore, the 25th seed is one of the best in the world on grass when she is on form. And she is currently enjoying a ten-match winning streak so her confidence is high. Whatever happens, it promises to be a thrilling encounter and the winner must surely be considered the favourite to win Saturday’s final.
Sabalenka’s Breakthrough Slam
Ever since she emerged, Aryna Sabalenka has been tipped as a future Grand Slam champion. She is almost certainly the most powerful player in the women’s game. When she is at her best, she uses her big serve and even bigger groundstrokes to completely overwhelm opponents.
However, despite her obvious abilities, the Belarussian had never reached a major quarter-final before this week. Up until now, she has always been one error-strewn display away from an early exit. Therefore, if this breakthrough fortnight turns out to be a yardstick of her growing maturity, the rest of the WTA Tour should definitely be worried.
Sabalenka has not breezed through the draw by any means. Britain’s Katie Boulter pushed her hard in round two. Then rising star Elena Rybakina tested her in round four. However, the 2nd seed produced a very impressive performance in the last eight to defeat Ons Jabeur, the rapidly-improving Tunisian who can be a dangerous opponent for anyone.
Pliskova Bids To Maintain Stunning Form
In the semi-final, the Belarussian will face Karolina Pliskova. The Czech is a fascinating figure on the WTA Tour. She seems to have almost all the attributes needed to win a Grand Slam title. She possesses a brilliant serve, precise, powerful groundstrokes and a fearless approach to the toughest matches.
Despite these qualities, the 8th seed has only reached one Grand Slam final and two semi-finals. This has led many observers to question her movement, which is relatively limited, and her temperament on court, which does occasionally boil over, as her furious swipe which took a chunk out of the umpire’s chair in Rome demonstrated.
Encouragingly for Pliskova’s followers, the Czech has looked to be the epitome of calm at Wimbledon 2021 so far. She has glided through the draw like a swan across a lake. And it has been mightily impressive to watch her make it through to the semi-final without dropping a set.
The 8th seed’s serene progress and greater experience make her the more likely winner of her last-four showdown with Sabalenka. She should also be encouraged by her superb wins over Serena Williams (the player most similar to the Belarussian) in 2016 and 2019. During both those victories, she demonstrated her ability to skilfully re-direct powerful strikes into open areas of the court.
Novak Djokovic Opens Up About Wimbledon Points Removal
The world No.1 states that he will always support the views of his peers.
By Kingsley Elliot Kaye
In his press conference following his win over Yoshihito Nishioka at the French Open, Novak Djokovic expressed his views about the ATP decision to remove points from Wimbledon.
Negatively affected by such a decision – he will drop 2000 points – the world No.1 praised the ATP’s stance and called for players’ unity.
“I think collectively I’m glad that players got together with ATP, the governing body of the men’s tennis, and showed to the Grand Slam that when there is a mistake happening, and there was from the Wimbledon side, then we have to show that there are going to be some consequences. So I support the players, unification always. I have always done that. I will always do that.” He said.
Djokovic criticized the lack of communication between the parties involved, in particular with regard to a document of recommendation by the English Government which contained diverse options. Had it been discussed by the All England Club with ATP and players, a compromise may have been reached.
“I think it was a wrong decision. I don’t support that at all. But, you know, during these times, it’s a super sensitive subject, and anything that you decide, it’s unfortunately going to create a lot of conflict, a lot of separation instead of unification.” He continued.
Djokovic also mentioned other suggestions coming from WTA and ATP, that possibly men’s and women’s players from Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia could play together at some exhibition event during the slam or something like this and prize money could go to the victims in Ukraine. There were different ideas, but there was never really a strong communication coming from Wimbledon.
He stressed that removing the points from Wimbledon, therefore not allowing players to earn or to defend points, is a decision that affects everyone, a lose-lose situation for everyone, as he called it.
Nonetheless, the charm and prestige of Wimbledon shall rest unaltered and its meaningfulness extends far beyond: “A Grand Slam is still a Grand Slam. Wimbledon for me was always my dream tournament when I was a child. You know, I don’t look at it through the lens of points or prize money. For me, it’s something else.”
Emma Raducanu Confident Fitness Is Improving After Maiden French Open Win
The world No.12 is playing in the main draw of a major for only the fourth time in her career.
British No.1 Emma Raducanu says she ‘felt really good’ during her roller-coaster win in the first round of the French Open.
The reigning US Open champion was forced to comeback from a set down to oust Czech qualifier Linda Noskova 6-7(5), 7-5, 6-1, after more than two-and-a-half hours of play. Noskova won the French Open girls title 12 months ago. Raducanu was on the verge of suffering a shock loss after going down a break twice during the second set before fighting her way back to force the match into a decider which she won with relative ease.
“It’s definitely a tough match to get through, and I’m really, really happy with the way that I regrouped after losing a set 7-6, which is always tough, having had some chances,” Raducanu said afterwards.
“To fight back, I was really pleased.”
This season is the first time Raducanu has played in the main draw of the French Open as a professional player. She had previously featured in the junior competition four years ago where she lost in the second round to Denmark’s Clara Tauson. She has now played at least one match in all four major events.
Comparing the tournaments, the Brit says the ‘vibes’ she feels are similar to that of what she experienced at the US Open where she made history by becoming the first qualifier to win the title. In New York she won 10 matches in a row without dropping a set.
“I think that the French Open, I’d say it gives me similar vibes to the US Open just because of the crowd and just how involved they get. It’s a complete contrast to Wimbledon where it’s dead silent. You can actually hear a pin drop before you serve. It’s incredible,” she explains.
“It definitely took some getting used to, but when I went out there (on court), I was honestly just enjoying it, and I don’t take any of anything personally.
“You can actually say anything to me. So when I was on the court and you get people shouting things it didn’t really affect me at all.”
Noskova is the eighth player Raducanu has managed to defeat on the WTA Tour during what has been a mixed 2022 season so far. Heading into Paris, she has managed to win back-to-back matches in just two out of eight tournaments played. Part of the reason for the lopsided results has been physical issues with a back injury forcing her to retire from the Italian Open earlier this month.
However, the world No.12 is confident that her physical fitness is heading in the right direction. In recent months she has explored various training set ups and has gone through three different coaches. The latest being Torben Beltz who she ended her collaboration with after just five months together.
“I think that it is definitely improving,” she said of her physicality. “One thing that I have been doing in the lead-up for this week and the whole of last week, I was doing a lot in the gym, a lot before practice, after practice, just keeping all the muscles fired up. It’s something I probably haven’t really done before, train through tournaments.’
“I am pretty pleased with how I was out there physically, and I feel really good, to be honest.”
Raducanu, who is seeded 12th in the French Open draw, will take on Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the second round.
Corentin Moutet beats Stan Wawrinka at Roland Garros
Corentin Moutet battled past 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka 2-6 6-3 7-6 (7-2) 6-3 after 2 hours and 54 minutes to reach the second round on Court Suzanne Lenglen at Roland Garros. Moutet broke six times and hit 33 winners.
Moutet, who is making his fifth apperance at Roland Garros, had not won a match at the home Grand Slam since 2019.
Moutet leads 2-0 in his head-to-head matches against Wawrinka, who beat Djokovic in the French Open final in 2015. The Swiss player was playing in just his third tour-level tournament of the season after returning from injury last month.
Wawrinka broke twice in the fourth and eighth games to win the first set 6-2 in 28 minutes after two double faults from Moutet.
Moutet earned an early break in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. Wawrinka served to stay in the set at 3-5, but Moutet broke for the second time to seal the second set 6-3.
Moutet broke at love in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. Wawrinka saved two set points at 2-5 before breaking back in the ninth game to draw level to 5-5. Moutet earned four mini-breaks to win the tie-break 7-2.
Moutet won the final four games from 2-2 with two breaks to seal the fourth set 6-2.
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