Wimbledon Daily Preview: Novak Djokovic Faces Holger Rune in the Round of 16 - UBITENNIS
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Wimbledon Daily Preview: Novak Djokovic Faces Holger Rune in the Round of 16

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Novak Djokovic on Saturday (twitter.com/wimbledon)

Day 8 at The Championships is scheduled to see the conclusion of fourth round singles play, though more rain is in the forecast for Monday.

Holger Rune is a rare player who from a young age has possessed the necessary level of skill and moxie to challenge Novak Djokovic since their very first meeting.  All five of their matches have been tight affairs, with Rune winning two of them, including the championship match at a Masters 1000 event.  Can Holger threaten Novak again on Monday?

Another Wimbledon champion, Elena Rybakina, is in stellar form, but also faces significant fourth round opposition in Anna Kalinskaya.  Plus, Roland Garros champ Barbora Krejcikova takes on Australian Open finalist Danielle Collins.  And two of the ATP’s best servers, Alexander Zverev and Taylor Fritz, will face each other on Day 8.

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


Elena Rybakina (4) vs. Anna Kalinskaya (17) – 1:30pm on Centre Court

Rybakina has withdrawn from many tournaments this season due to various illnesses and injuries, but when she’s been healthy, she’s been almost completely dominant.  The 2022 champion is 38-7 in 2024, having advanced to five finals, and winning three of them (Brisbane, Abu Dhabi, Stuttgart).  And on Saturday evening, she thumped Caroline Wozniacki by a score of 6-0, 6-1. 

Kalinskaya is 24-12 on the year, and has seen her ranking improve from No.80 in January to a recent career-high of No.17.  Anna was the runner-up at a WTA 1000 tournament in Dubai, as well as just a few weeks ago in Berlin on grass.  She is yet to drop a set this fortnight, which includes a strong victory over recent ‘s-Hertogenbosch champion Liudmila Samsonova.

They played three times during 2023, with Rybakina taking two of three, though one ended with Kalinskaya retiring after just seven games.  The other two matches, in Miami and Madrid, both went three sets.  While Anna has an assertive game, it’s not quite as imposing as that of Elena’s.  I like Rybakina’s chances of advancing to the quarterfinals for the third consecutive year at The Championships.


Taylor Fritz (13) vs. Alexander Zverev (4) – Second on Centre Court

Zverev leads their head-to-head 5-3, most recently defeating Fritz in straight sets this past May in Rome on clay.  And Sascha has also twice defeated Taylor at The All-England Club.  In 2018, he came from two-sets-to-one down to comfortably win in five, losing just three games across the last two sets.  In 2021, he won in four.

It’s been a strong season for Zverev, who on Saturday picked up his 40th win of 2024, over Britain’s Cam Norrie.  Sascha has claimed all nine sets he’s contested to this stage.  Fritz has taken nine of 10 sets, and is currently on a seven-match grass court winning streak, coming off a title run in Eastbourne, the third time he has won that event.  Taylor now has 34 wins on the year.

Zverev is seemingly the slight favorite on paper, but I would not be surprised to watch Fritz pull off the upset.  Taylor was a quarterfinalist here two years ago, while Sascha has never advanced beyond this round at The Championships.  And I could just as easily see Zverev emboldened by his run to the Roland Garros final, as I could see him emotionally drained and tormented by it, again being just one set away from winning a Major.  Regardless, the margins should be rather slim in this one, between two superb servers.


Danielle Collins (11) vs. Barbora Krejcikova (31) – Third on No.1 Court

Collins is making the most of her last season before retirement.  She is 39-11 this year, with back-to-back titles in Miami and Charleston.  After losing in the second round of Roland Garros, she took a month off from competition, skipping all grass court lead-up events.  Yet Danielle won her first three matches of this tournament in straight sets, including a stirring contest in the last round against Beatriz Haddad Maia.

Krejcikova’s career has unfortunately been derailed by injuries since her French Open title over three years ago.  She arrived at SW19 just 7-10 in 2024, and at one point this season went on a five-match losing streak.  But she’s pulled out a few tight matches this past week to match her best singles result at this event.

They’ve only played once before, last summer on a hard court in San Diego, where Krejcikova prevailed in three sets.  But based on the way Collins has been playing this season, I’m backing the Danimal to achieve her fourth Major quarterfinal, and her first at Wimbledon.  She is just striking the ball with such confidence and ferocity, and Collins is one of the WTA’s toughest outs when she’s playing her best.


Holger Rune (15) vs. Novak Djokovic (2) – Third on Centre Court

Despite having a procedure done on his knee the day after withdrawing from Roland Garros last month, Djokovic has advanced to the fourth round of this tournament for the 16th time, with the loss of two sets.  And he has won his last 14 matches this round of The Championships.  Novak now vies to reach his record-extending 60th Major quarterfinal.

Rune is a solid if unspectacular 25-13 this year, and he is yet to advance to a Major quarterfinal in 2024.  While he has competed excellently against Novak in the past, Holger remains an unproven commodity on grass.  He is just 10-6 lifetime on this surface, though he did make the quarters here a year ago, thanks to a fourth round victory over Grigor Dimitrov.

Rune’s two wins over Djokovic both came at Masters 1000 events: in the final of Bercy on an indoor hard court, and the quarterfinals of Rome an on outdoor clay court.  Novak has taken their last two meetings, both on indoor hard courts at the end of last season, though both were quite close.  But on this surface, and especially on Centre Court, the seven-time Wimbledon champion must be favored, despite his knee still not being fully recovered.


Other Notable Matches on Monday:

Lorenzo Musetti (25) vs. Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard (LL) – This is a fourth round Major debut for Mpetshi Perricard in just his third appearance at this level, and it comes on his 21st birthday.  As per Greg Sharko, the young Frenchman leads Wimbledon with 105 aces through three rounds, and has saved 13 of 14 break points.  Musetti is 0-2 at this stage of Majors to date, but he’s in the midst of a strong grass court season, with a record of 10-2.  Just a few weeks ago on grass in Stuttgart, Lorenzo defeated Giovanni in two tight sets, both decided by prolonged tiebreaks.

Arthur Fils vs. Alex de Minaur (9) – De Minaur won his first two matches in straight sets, then received a walkover in the third round from an injured Lucas Pouille, so he hasn’t played since Thursday.  Fils is another young Frenchman make his first appearance in the round of 16 at a Slam, after coming from behind to beat Roman Safiullin in five on Saturday.  Earlier this season on clay in Barcelona, Arthur prevailed over Alex in straight sets.

Elina Svitolina (21) vs. Xinyu Wang – Svitolina earned an excellent victory in the last round over two-time finalist Ons Jabeur.  22-year-old Xinyu of China upset Jessica Pegula in the second round, and backed that up by taking out Great Britain’s Harriet Dart in three, to reach the fourth round of a Major for the second time. 

Yulia Putintseva vs. Jelena Ostapenko (13) – Putintseva upset Iga Swiatek in the last round, while Ostapenko has been steamrolling the competition, dropping just 10 games through six sets.  They have split four prior encounters, all on hard courts, one of which ended with this infamously frosty hand shake.


Monday’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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