Elena Rybakina Eases Into Wimbledon Semis, Faces Krejcikova Next - UBITENNIS
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Elena Rybakina Eases Into Wimbledon Semis, Faces Krejcikova Next

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Elena Rybakina continued her quest for a second title at Wimbledon with a straight-sets victory over Elina Svitolina on Wednesday.

The 2022 champion stormed to a 6-3, 6-2, win over her Ukrainian rival in what was their fifth Tour-level meeting. Rybakina was able to dictate play with the help of 26 winners and dropped only four points behind her first serve. She has now won 40 matches this season and her career win-loss record at Wimbledon currently stands at 19-2.

“It’s always tough to play Elina. She’s a great player and fighter. No matter the score, it was not as easy as it might look like.” Rybakina said during her on-court interview.

A tentative start to the match saw both players both drop their opening service games before settling down. Engaging in some heavy-hitting exchanges from the baseline, Rybakina seized her moment in the eighth game. Two forehand winners from the Kazakh with a Svitolina error in between moved her to a trio of break points chances for a 5-3 lead. She converted her first with a deep return that triggered another mistake from across the court. Rybakina went on to seal the opening set in just over 30 minutes by firing a 115 mph ace out wide. 

Continuing to dictate proceedings on Center Court, the fourth seed bullied Svitolina around the court by hitting angle shots that set her up to hit a winner. Breaking immediately at the start of the second frame with this tactic. Svitolina kept fighting by producing glimmers of her best shot-making. However, she was not consistent enough to derail Rybakina, who broke for a second time en route to victory. Closing the match out with her seventh ace which registered at a speed of 113 mph.

It is the seventh time this season that Rybakina has reached the semi-final of a Tour event which is the joint-most on the WTA Tour alongside Iga Swiatek. She is the only player left in the women’s draw to have previously reached a final at The All England Club. 

“I have such amazing memories from 2022,” she said. “I’m just really enjoying every time I step on the court. Especially when I play good, it’s just really amazing.”
“I have an aggressive style of game, I have a huge serve so it’s a big advantage. 
“Of course, I want to go to the end, but I’m (taking it) match by match and I’m happy with the way I’m going and looking forward to the next one.”

Standing in her way of a place in this year’s final will be Barbora Krejcikova. A former French Open champion who had never gone beyond the fourth round at Wimbledon until this year. Krejcikova ousted Jelena Ostapenko 6-4, 7-6(4),in a roller-coaster encounter. The Czech dropped four consecutive games after leading 4-1 in the second set but held her nerve to seal victory. She is the seventh woman from her country to reach the last four at SW19 in the Open Era. 

“I don’t have any words right now. Just a minute ago, I told myself that I’m going to leave here everything I have andI’m really happy that I did and yeah, it’s a great moment for me,” said Krejcikova.
“It’s an unbelievable moment that I’m experiencing right now in my tennis career.”

The fairytale run comes after a difficult start to 2024 for Krejcikova who won only three matches between February and June. During this period she was struggling with a back injury. 

“There have been many doubts from inside but also from the outside world but I’m super happy that I never give up and that I’m standing here right now and that I qualified to be in the semi-finals.” She said. 

Krejcikova is ranked 28 places lower than Rybakina at 32nd in the world but has won both of their previous meetings. However, the last time they played was in 2022. 

It is the first time since 2018 that three out of the four Wimbledon semi-finalists in the women’s draw are aged 28 or over. 

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Jasmine Paolini Looks Great, But Krejcikova Is Next At Wimbledon

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Jasmine Paolini’s path to a Grand Slam title might have fallen apart in Wimbledon’s semifinals.

Barbara Krejcikova is just the kind of player Paolini might not want to face.

Otherwise, grass is good for Paolini. She just eats up all of those low ball-sliding grass shots that her opponents have been providing. Those shots are perfect for the 5-3 Italian. She doesn’t have to get down very low since she is naturally there already, and she has great quickness. So,  Wimbledon’s grass was made for someone like Paolini.

CAN PAOLINI HANDLE KREJCIKOVA’S BAG OF TRICKS

Krejcikova has a bag full of tricks to throw at Paolini. Balls come off her racket twisting and turning just enough to throw Paolini’s reach-back cocked forehands off their mark. And Krejcikova has the experience needed to bring home an overall 12th Grand Slam title.

But you have to admit that the stubby Paolini is quite a player. She’s like a bouncing ball running loose on the court.

Paolini definitely was a superb player against new star Emma Navarro, who could do little right against the little Italian. Paolini just did everything to Navarro’s game that Navarro had been using to dominate the Italian.

THE SLY GAME OF KREJCIKOVA

Navarro couldn’t take charge of the points against Paolini in the quarterfinals, just the opposite of Navarro’s play against powerful Coco Gauff in the round of 16.

But Krejcikova is so sly with her game that she can take the rhythm right out of Paolini’s game.

After all, Krejcikova won the 2021 French Open singles title. She also has been a part of doubles champions at all four Grand Slams, and has won a total of seven Grand Slam doubles titles and three Grand Slam mixed doubles titles.

That’s 11 Grand Slam titles. What’s another title to the 28-year-old Czech?

VEKIC HAD HER CHANCES

Donna Vekic had her chances to end Paolini’s march to Saturday’s final, but the 28-year-old Croatian seemed to go for broke every time down the stretch when she had an add or deuce point. That’s probably why the 28-year-old Vekic has never been ranked higher than 19th in the world.

Time after time Vekic went for the jugular with sizzling  cross-court shots that narrowly missed the lines late in the third set before losing, 2-6, 6-4, 7-6.

Of course, Paolini’s amazing quickness may have had something to do with those misses.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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Inspiration Key To Italy’s Tennis Success, Says Jasmine Paolini

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Jasmine Paolini - Wimbledon 2024 (X @wimbledon)

Unlike Italy’s disappointing exit from the Euros last month, their tennis stars continue to make waves at Wimbledon.  

Thursday at The All England Club saw Jasmine Paolini become the first woman from the country to reach a singles final in its history. The French Open finalist ousted Donna Vekic in a three-set epic, which was the longest semi-final match to take place in the women’s tournament. She is the first payer to reach the final of both Roland Garros and Wimbledon in the same year since Serena Williams in 2016. 

Paolini, who had never won a match at the grasscourt major until this year, isn’t the only Italian success. In the men’s draw, Lorenzo Musetti is enjoying his best-ever run at a major event after beating Taylor Fritz in a five-set battle on Wednesday. There is also Jannik Sinner who holds the ATP No.1 ranking, as well as many other strong players.

So how has Italy become such a force in tennis?

“I think we are inspiring each other,” Paolini commented on Thursday.
“I have to say in Italy there are many, many tournaments, like challengers, ITF, juniors.
“I think every player shows that something can be possible. Jannik is showing that. In Italy now it’s normal to have Jannik as No. 1. Normal, no, but he’s doing unbelievable things. I think he lost three matches this year, so it’s unbelievable to have him in that position. I think it helps all the movement behind it.
“Now we have many, many players that are doing really, really well, apart from Sinner.”

As it currently stands, Italy has nine men in the ATP top 100 and another five in the women’s top 100. The country also has a series of promising youngsters rising up the ranks. 

As for Musetti’s chances of matching Paolini’s run by reaching the final, he faces a tough task. He will next take on Novak Djokovic who is bidding to win a record-equalling eighth title at SW19. It will be the seventh meeting between the two with Musetti only winning one of their previous encounters on the clay. 

“Lorenzo is a really nice guy,” said Paolini. 
“I’m so happy for him. He has a huge talent. I think really good person. Hopefully, he can play a good match.”

This year’s Wimbledon featured three Italians in the singles quarter-finals (including Sinner who lost to Daniil Medvedev) for the first time in history. 

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‘It’s Tough To Be Positive’ – Tearful Donna Vekic On Wimbledon Exit

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Donna Vekic - Wimbledon 2024 (foto X @WTA)

Donna Vekic felt like she was ‘going to die’ during the third set of her record-breaking match against Jasmine Paolini at Wimbledon on Thursday. 

The Croat narrowly missed out on a place in her first Grand Slam final after losing 10-8 to Paolini in the decisive tiebreaker. Vekic battled on the court for two hours and 51 minutes in what was the longest women’s semi-final match to ever take place at SW19. After taking the first set, she got broken when down 4-5 in the second and then failed to maintain a 3-1 advantage in the decider. 

Thursday’s defeat is a bitter pill for Vekic to swallow who was visibly emotional during her press conference.

“I believed that I could win until the end. She played some amazing tennis. All congrats to her. She definitely deserved it.” She said. 
“She doesn’t have the best serve, but she’s serving well enough. I felt like also in the third set she was returning well.”

During stages of the match, Vekic looked weary on the court and was shaking her right arm at one stage, which was presumably due to cramping. Five out of her six matches played at the tournament had gone the full distance. The only exception was her second round clash against Erika Andreeva. 

“I thought I was going to die in the third set. I had so much pain in my arm, in my leg. It was not easy out there, but I will recover.” She said. 
“I was more crying because I had so much pain, I didn’t know how I could keep playing.”

Still, there are plenty of positives to draw from the grass swing for Vekic during what has been a roller-coaster season. At one stage of this year she failed to win back-to-back matches at five consecutive tournaments. But on the grass, she has faired better with a run to the final in Bad Homburg before Wimbledon.

However, with the defeat still fresh in her mind, it is tough for the world No.37 to look on the bright side at the moment.

“My team tells me that I can be proud of myself. It’s tough right now. It’s tough. I will need to take a couple of days to see everything.” She explains.
“It’s tough to be positive right now. It was so close. I had a lot of chances.”

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