Wimbledon Daily Preview: Fourth Round Matches Featuring Sinner, Gauff, Alcaraz - UBITENNIS
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Wimbledon Daily Preview: Fourth Round Matches Featuring Sinner, Gauff, Alcaraz

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Jannik Sinner this week on Centre Court (twitter.com/wimbledon)

Day 7 at The Championships sees the beginning of the round of 16 in the gentlemen’s and ladies’ singles draws.  And with further rain in Sunday’s forecast, those players scheduled on Centre Court and No.1 Court must be thankful.

Sunday provides some appetizing round of 16 matchups.  World No.1 Jannik Sinner faces a tough test in mposing young American, Ben Shelton.  Directly thereafter on No.1 Court, in a collision between top 10 seeds, Daniil Medvedev takes on Grigor Dimitrov.  Plus, defending champion Carlos Alcaraz faces France’s Ugo Humbert.

In ladies’ singles action, reigning US Open champion Coco Gauff plays fellow American Emma Navarro.  Another American, Madison Keys, squares off against recent Roland Garros runner-up, Jasmine Paolini of Italy.  And the last British woman standing, Emma Raducanu, plays qualifier Lulu Sun.

Throughout the tournament, this preview will analyze the day’s four most prominent matches, while highlighting the other notable matches on the schedule.  Sunday’s play is scheduled to begin at 11:00am local time.


Jasmine Paolini (7) vs. Madison Keys (12) – 1:00pm on No.1 Court

Paolini is now 27-12 this season, highlighted by a WTA 1000 title in Dubai, and reaching her first Major final in Paris.  She’s actually reached the fourth round or better at every Major this year, and is yet to lose a set this fortnight.  And prior to this year, Jasmine has never won a tour-level match on grass.  Her rise in 2024 has been mightily impressive.

By contrast, Keys has a strong resume on this surface, with three career grass court titles.  However, Wimbledon is surprisingly the only Slam where she is yet to advance to a semifinal, though she is a two-time quarterfinalist, including last year.  Madison also hasn’t lost a set through three rounds, and she has only been broken twice.

Their only previous meeting occurred last year in Dubai on a hard court, where Keys easily prevailed 6-1, 6-1.  But Paolini is a completely different player in 2024, and I expect a much tighter affair on Sunday.  However, I still expect the same result, as this surface definitively favors Madison.


Jannik Sinner (1) vs. Ben Shelton (14) – Second on No.1 Court

Sinner is an absurd 41-3 on the year, with four titles, which of course includes his first Major in Melbourne.  He was quite ill ahead of the French Open, so it was not a shock to see him lose in the semifinals to eventual champion Carlos Alcaraz.  But he appears fully healthy after coming off his first grass court title in Halle two weeks ago, and Jannik already overcame another big-serving threat during the first week, in fellow Italian Matteo Berrettini.

Prior to this tournament, Shelton was a mere 3-6 lifetime on grass, as he was yet to find his footing on this surface.  However, Ben has fought his way through three consecutive five-setters to reach the fourth round of a Major for the third time out of eight appearances.  The issue is Shelton had to play all six days of this event due to rain delays, and he was even playing men’s doubles late on Saturday evening.  So despite his young age and eye-popping fitness, Ben must be exhausted.

Sinner and Shelton have played three times within the past nine months, with the Italian taking two of those three matchups.  Last October, Ben won an extremely close three-setter in Shanghai, with Jannik avenging that loss just a few weeks later in Vienna.  And this past March in Indian Wells, Sinner won for a second consecutive time in straight sets.  On Sunday, Jannik is again a considerable favorite over a depleted Ben.


Grigor Dimitrov (10) vs. Daniil Medvedev (5) – Third on No.1 Court

These players have met 10 times since 2017, with Medvedev leading 7-3.  And while their only grass court encounter went to Dimitrov, that came over seven years ago in their first meeting, before Medvedev had become a top player.  Daniil has taken four of their last five, though last November in Bercy, Grigor won a dramatic contest that lasted nearly three hours, and was decided in a third-set tiebreak.

Grass is far from Medvedev’s favorite surface, but he’s played well to this stage, losing only two sets.  And Daniil was a semifinalist here a year ago.  Dimitrov’s semifinal appearance here occurred 10 years ago, and a few days ago in the second round, he had to erase a two-set deficit against Juncheng Shang.  Yet since last fall, Grigor has played some of the best tennis of his career.

On this surface, I like Dimitrov’s chances of beating Medvedev on Sunday.  Grigor’s variety is rewarded by the lawns of The All-England Club, especially when he plays more aggressively, as he has of late.


Emma Navarro (19) vs. Coco Gauff (2) – Third on Centre Court

Gauff has simply crushed the competition thus far, dropping only 10 games across six sets.  She is now 35-10 in 2024, as she looks to advance to her fourth consecutive Major semifinal since winning the US Open last summer.  This is her third time in the round of 16 at The Championships, since first doing so in a thrilling run as a 15-year-old, though she’s 0-2 in this round.

Navarro played sensationally in her Centre Court debut earlier this week, taking out Naomi Osaka 6-4, 6-1.  She followed that up with a three-set victory over recent grass court champion Diana Shnaider.  It’s been a breakthrough season for 23-year-old Emma, who is now 39-15 at all levels.

When Coco and Emma played at the beginning of the year in Auckland, Gauff was victorious 6-3, 6-1, in their only match to date.  And while Navarro was successful against a similarly-powerful opponent in Osaka, Gauff is currently playing at a more elite level, and should be favored to advance.


Other Notable Matches on Sunday:

Paula Badosa vs. Donna Vekic – Badosa upset 14th-seeded Daria Kasatkina in the last round, to reach the fourth round at a Major for the first time in two years, as injuries have interrupted her career.  Vekic won a three-set slugfest on Friday against Dayana Yastremska, as she now vies for her third Major quarterfinal. 

Tommy Paul (12) vs. Roberto Bautista Agut – Paul is on an eight-match grass court win streak, after claiming the title two weeks ago at Queen’s Club.  Bautista Agut was a semifinalist here in 2019, but he’s currently ranked outside the top 100, and this is the first time he has won three consecutive main draw matches in over a year.  Roberto leads their head-to-head 3-2, though Tommy took their last two encounters.

Carlos Alcaraz (3) vs. Ugo Humbert (16) – Alcaraz survived in five sets over Frances Tiafoe on Friday, and he’s now a ridiculous 12-1 in five-setters.  This is Humbert’s second appearance in the round of 16 at a Slam, after first doing so five years ago at this same event. 

Lulu Sun (Q) vs. Emma Raducanu – Raducanu is yet to drop a set and has looked extremely sharp, though she did pull out of mixed doubles with Andy Murray on Saturday, citing wrist tightness.  Lulu Sun is a 23-year-old qualifier from New Zealand who has won six matches since the beginning of qualifying last week, and upset Australian Open finalist Qinwen Zheng in the first round of the main draw.


Sunday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Wimbledon Daily Preview: Jasmine Paolini Plays Barbora Krejcikova for the Ladies’ Singles Championship

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Jasmine Paolini after winning her semifinal on Thursday (twitter.com/wimbledon)

Day 13 at The Championships hosts the championship matches in ladies’ singles, ladies’ doubles, and gentlemen’s doubles.

It’s cliché, and usually untrue, to say “No one expected these two finalists.”  But in this case, it is absolutely true.  Prior to this fortnight, Jasmine Paolini had never won a match at The Championships.  And Barbora Krejcikova arrived at SW19 with a losing record on the year.  Yet both will play in their second Major singles final on Saturday, after inspired play during this tournament.


Barbora Krejcikova (31) vs. Jasmine Paolini (7) – 2:00pm on Centre Court

After failing to advance beyond the second round in her first 16 appearances at Majors, Paolini is now 15-2 in her last three, and is the first WTA player to reach the final of both Roland Garros and Wimbledon since Serena Williams in 2016.  Jasmine is 30-12 on the year, and has won 14 of her last 16 matches.  She has been taken to three sets twice during this event, most recently outlasting Donna Vekic in a third-set tiebreak during Thursday’s semifinals.

Krejcikova has also required three sets in two of her six matches to this stage, upsetting 2022 champion Elena Rybakina in the semis.  That was the third win in a row for Barbora over a higher-seed, after ousting two other big hitters, Danielle Collins and Jelena Ostapenko.  She’s accomplished all this despite being just 7-9 this season before this tournament began.  Injuries have plagued her career since her 2021 Roland Garros singles title, including a back injury earlier this year. 

Paolini is 2-4 lifetime in singles finals at WTA level, while Krejcikova is 7-5.  However, when you consider their appearances in Major finals between singles and doubles, Paolini is 0-2, having lost both the women’s singles and doubles finals last month in Paris, while Krejcikova is an amazing 11-1.  That’s a huge contrast in success at Grand Slam level.

These players also possess contrasting styles.  Paolini has been crushing her forehand, using it to come forward and show off her great hands at the net.  Krejcikova has a good serve, as well as both power and guile on her groundstrokes.  She loves using her slice to keep her opponents off-balance.  However, that will be more difficult to do against such a great mover like Jasmine.  And Barbora’s forehand has become unreliable in some crucial moments during this fortnight, which the Italian can target.

But on this surface, and considering her history in Major finals, I give the edge to Krejcikova to win her second Major singles title.  Plus, Barbora has already won two ladies’ doubles titles on this same court.  And she would surely cherish the chance to honor her late coach and mentor Jana Novotna by holding the Venus Rosewater Dish aloft on Centre Court, just as Jana did in 1998.


Other Notable Matches on Saturday:

Max Purcell and Jordan Thompson (15) vs. Harri Heliovaara and Henry Patten – This is a fourth Major final in men’s doubles for Purcell, who won this title two years ago alongside another Aussie, Matthew Ebden.  Thompson had never advanced beyond the fourth round of a Major in either men’s singles or doubles until this run.  Patten is also a Major final debutante, while Heliovaara won last year’s US Open in mixed doubles.

Katerina Siniakova and Taylor Townsend (4) vs. Gabriela Dabrowski and Erin Routliffe (2) – Siniakova is playing for the ninth Major title in women’s doubles, while Townsend is playing for her first, after going 0-2 in previous finals.  Dabrowski and Routliffe are the reigning US Open champions, and Routliffe will become the new World No.1 in women’s doubles on Monday, regardless of Saturday’s result.


Saturday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Wimbledon Daily Preview: Alcaraz and Medvedev Collide in a Semifinal Rematch

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Carlos Alcaraz earlier this week (twitter.com/wimbledon)

Day 12 at The Championships hosts the gentlemen’s singles semifinals, as well as the semifinals in both ladies’ and mixed doubles.

We are just one match away from a highly-anticipated rematch of last year’s epic gentlemen’s singles final between Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz.  However, just as he did last summer at the US Open, Daniil Medvedev is eager to spoil the party, and defeat Alcaraz in another Major semifinal.  Plus, Djokovic needs to overcome 22-year-old Italian Lorenzo Musetti, who owns a victory over Novak.


Daniil Medvedev (5) vs. Carlos Alcaraz (3) – 1:30pm on Centre Court

Alcaraz leads their head-to-head 4-2, with three of those victories coming on hard courts, Medvedev’s preferred surface.  They’ve twice before played at this tournament, and they split those meetings.  Medvedev won in straights three years ago in the second round, while Alcaraz won in straights last year in this same round.  And since Daniil defeated Carlitos in four sets last September in New York, Alcaraz has beaten him twice in straights, including a few months ago in the Indian Wells final.

A year after last year’s one-sided semifinal between these same two players, Medvedev appears much more comfortable on grass, and willing to be more aggressive and vary his return position against Alcaraz.  Many of Carlitos’ victories over Daniil have been a result of Medvedev returning serve from way back in the court, allowing Alcaraz to come forward and dictate play, as well as use his beloved drop shot.  But Daniil has recently moved forward and played more offensively, not only against Carlitos, but also against Jannik Sinner, as we saw in the last round.

And Alcaraz has appeared quite vulnerable throughout this fortnight, dropping at least one set in each of his last three matches, all of which featured stints of sloppy play from the defending champion.  Yet as he usually does, Carlitos has created some magic in big moments, including during a come-from-behind victory over Frances Tiafoe in five sets.  And as improved as Medvedev is on grass, this surface still favors the power and variety of Alcaraz.  Carlitos is the favorite to prevail in what should be a contest full of dynamic rallies.


Lorenzo Musetti (25) vs. Novak Djokovic (2) – Second on Centre Court

Musetti’s victory over Djokovic came a year ago on clay in Monte Carlo, in a three-hour three-setter.  The Italian also had the all-time great on the ropes during their first clash at the 2021 French Open, when Lorenzo won the first two sets in tiebreaks, before wilting and losing the next three 6-1, 6-0, 4-0, as a depleted Musetti would retire and be unable to even finish the match. 

Their most recent encounter was also a Roland Garros five-setter.  Just a month ago in Paris, Djokovic again came from behind to defeat Musetti in five, with the last two sets featuring lopsided scores of 6-3 and 6-0.  Overall Novak has claimed five of their six matches.

Lorenzo’s lasting power on Friday will not be aided by a draining five-set win on Wednesday against Taylor Fritz.  By contrast, Djokovic did not play at all on Wednesday, as Alex de Minaur withdrew from their quarterfinal due to injury.  Normally such an interruption to a player’s schedule late in a big event can negatively impact their rhythm.  But Novak is now a 49-time Major semifinalist, so there’s not much he’s unprepared for at this stage of his illustrious career.  And his recently surgically-repaired knee likely didn’t mind the extra rest and recovery time.

And Novak’s record across the past decade in Major semifinals is mind-boggling: since the 2015 Australian Open, he is 22-2.  At Wimbledon specifically, Djokovic hasn’t lost a semifinal since 2012, having won his last eight.  Against an opponent making his Major semifinal debut, Novak is a considerable favorite, even if his knee is still far from 100%.


Other Notable Matches on Friday:

Su-wei Hsieh and Elise Mertens (1) vs. Katerina Siniakova and Taylor Townsend (4) – Su-wei and Mertens crushed Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula in the last round, as each looks to become a ladies’ doubles finalist in all four of their latest appearances at The Championships.  Hsieh will also play in the mixed doubles semifinals later in the day.  Siniakova is an eight-time Major champion in women’s doubles, while Townsend is a two-time finalist. 

Caroline Dolehide and Desirae Krawczyk (7) vs. Gabriela Dabrowski and Erin Routliffe (2) – Dolehide was a surprising finalist in singles at last fall’s WTA 1000 event in Guadalajara, but is 0-5 in women’s doubles semifinals at Majors.  Krawczyk is a four-time Major champ in mixed doubles, with two of those wins coming at Wimbledon.  Dabrowski and Routliffe are the reigning US Open champions, and like Hsieh, Erin is also in the mixed doubles semis.


Friday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Wimbledon Daily Preview: Major Champions Rybakina and Krejcikova Meet in the Semifinals

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Elena Rybakina after her quarterfinal victory on Wednesday (twitter.com/wimbledon)

Day 11 at The Championships hosts the ladies’ singles semifinals, as well as the gentlemen’s double semifinals.

2022 Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina plays 2021 Roland Garros champion Barbora Krejcikova in Thursday’s ladies’ singles semifinals.  The winner advances to Saturday’s championship match against either Roland Garros runner-up Jasmine Paolini or four-time WTA titleholder Donna Vekic.  In what has been an unpredictable ladies’ singles draw, who will prevail on Day 11?


Donna Vekic vs. Jasmine Paolini (7) – 1:30pm on Centre Court

What an amazing year it has been for Paolini.  At the start of 2024, the 28-year-old Italian had never advanced beyond the second round of a Major in 16 appearances.  But after reaching the fourth round of the Australian Open, and winning a WTA 1000 title in Dubai, she went all the way to the championship match a month ago at Roland Garros, upsetting Rybakina in the quarterfinals.  And now Jasmine has backed up that career milestone with a second consecutive Major semifinal, following a dominant performance against Emma Navarro in the last round.  Paolini will debut inside the top five on Monday.

This is the farthest Vekic has ever advanced at a Major, after previously going 0-2 in quarterfinals.  The 28-year-old Croatian has battled multiple injuries during her career, and was only 12-11 on the year coming into the grass court season.  But Donna has now won eight of her last nine matches on grass, after reaching the final of Bad Homburg two weeks ago.  Grass has easily been the best surface of her career, and she’s benefitted from adding Hall of Famer Pam Shriver to her team.

Paolini and Vekic have split two official meetings, both on hard courts within the past three years.  Jasmine also defeated Donna three years ago in Cincinnati qualifying.  But this surface should certainly favor Vekic, who possesses the much more formidable serve.  Against Lulu Sun in the quarterfinals, Donna won a superb 87% of first serve points. 

In her own quarterfinal against Navarro, Paolini has able to open up the court with her surprisingly powerful forehand, and then coming to net consistently, nabbing 16 of 17 points at net.  Jasmine plays doubles regularly, so she’s fully comfortable coming forward.  And she’s a great returner, as she broke Navarro in five out of seven service games.

This should be a fascinating contest between two players with contrasting styles.  Will Paolini’s recent experience in a Major semifinal be a key factor?  Will Vekic’s grass court prowess carry her to victory?  I give the slight edge to Donna, as I will be surprised if Jasmine can attack Donna’s serve as well as Jasmine has attacked the serve of others, though the Italian has continued to surprise me throughout this season.


Barbora Krejcikova (31) vs. Elena Rybakina (4) – Second on Centre Court

Rybakina is now 19-2 lifetime at The Championships, after a clinical straight-set victory against Elina Svitolina on Wednesday.  That was also her 40th win of the season, which is second-best in WTA singles, despite Elena pulling out of several events due to injury and illness.  She’s dropped just one set through five matches during this fortnight, and across the last three rounds, has struck 89 winners and only 48 unforced errors. 

This semifinal run from Krejcikova has come out of nowhere, as she was just 7-9 before arriving at SW19, in a season interrupted by a back injury.  But she’s been most impressive in back-to-back wins over big-hitting seeded players (Collins, Ostapenko), using her variety to move them around the court, and put them in uncomfortable positions.  If Barbora can do that against Elena on Thursday, she has a real shot at advancing to her second Major final in singles.  And while Krejcikova was just 6-3 in singles at this event prior to this fortnight, she’s twice won this event in ladies’ doubles.

Krejickova is also 2-0 against Rybakina, having won a pair of three-setters on hard courts within the last few seasons.  On this surface, and at this stage of a tournament, with Elena holding a 5-1 record in semifinals this year, Rybakina remains the favorite.  But Elena also knows she’s now a big favorite to win this tournament for a second time, which places plenty of pressure on her shoulders.  I do not expect this semifinal to be straightforward for the 2022 champion.


Other Notable Matches on Thursday:

Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos (1) vs. Max Purcell and Jordan Thompson (15) – This is a gentlemen’s doubles semifinal.  The top seeds are still looking for the first Major of their partnership, despite advancing to the Wimbledon final in two of the last three years.  Purcell won this event in 2022 alongside Matthew Ebden, while this is a first Major semifinal for Thompson.

Harri Heliovaara and Henry Patten vs. Neal Skupski and Michael Venus (9) – This is the second gentlemen’s doubles semifinal.  Skupski won this tournament a year ago with Wesley Koolhof, and also won mixed doubles here in both 2021 and 2022.  Venus won a Major in men’s doubles at the 2017 French Open.  Heliovaara won mixed doubles at last year’s US Open, and has won two ATP titles this season alongside Patten of Great Britain.


Thursday’s full Order of Play is here.

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