Monday, July 8, 2019

Riske and Muchova pull major upsets at Wimbledon

Unseeded Alison Riske upset world number 1 Ash Barty today at Wimbledon in the round of 16. Riske's tidy, efficient grass court game, executed with poise, was good enough to overcome Barty and to send Riske into the quarterfinals. Riske's 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 victory included 30 winners and only 15 unforced errors. It shouldn't have come as a complete surprise to anyone: Riske had already taken out 22nd seed Donna Vekic and 13th seed Belinda Bencic.

Riske's run gets really interesting tomorrow when she faces off against seven-time champion Serena Williams. Williams defeated Carla Suarez Navarro today and is going after a 24th major singles title.

Not surprisingly, Simona Halep put a straight-set end to Coco Gauff's dream run. The 7th seed's court geometry skills were too much for the 15-year-old, who was not able to use her serve against Halep the way she did against her other opponents. Gauff also hit twice as many unforced errors as winners.

8th seed Elina Svitloina reached the quarterfinals for the first time. Last year, she went out to Tatjana Maria in the first round. In 2017, she was defeated in the round of 16 by Alona Ostapenko, and in 2016, Svitolina lost to Yaroslava Shvedova in the second round.

Today, the Ukrainian star overcame 24th seed Petra Martic in straight sets.

Also having a great run is Barbora Strycova, who upset 21st seed Elise Mertens today. And having a really good run is Zhang Shuai, who beat talented teenager Dayana Yastremska.

Two-time champion Petra Kvitova hasn't looked as though her injured forearm has been troubling her, but something (besides her opponent) was troubling her today, as she sweat profusely (and didn't wear her headband!) and just kind of went away after her first set against Jo Konta. Down 1-5 in the third set, the Czech star made a comeback, creating some tension, but it wasn't quite enough for her to stop the inevitable. Konta's 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 victory reflects her re-make of her game, and especially her serve.

And then there were the Karolinas.

I don't know whether we'll see such a show again for the remainder of the week. 3rd seed Karolina Pliskova played unseeded countrywoman Karolina Muchova, and the entire three-hour and 17-minute affair was a combination tennis clinic and high quality piece of entertainment. And even though there was a whole lot going on on other courts, I found it hard to take my eyes off of this match.

Between them, they hit 105 winners, and they both wound up with positive winner-to-unforced error ratios. There just wasn't much between them, and it was only at the last minute that we knew who would advance to the quarterfinals. The match was thrilling and very well-played, and Muchova showed nerves of steel.

In doubles, defending chamnpions Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova advanced to the quarterfinals. Last year's runners-up, Nicole Melichar and Kveta Peschke, also advanced.

Here is the singles draw for the quarterfinals, which includes four unseeded players:

Alison Riske vs. Serena Williams (11)
Barbora Strycova vs. Jo Konta (19)
Elina Svitolina (8) vs. Karolina Muchova
Simona Halep (7) vs. Zhang Shuai

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