Saturday, July 2, 2022

All good things really do come to an end--sometimes with French flair

It had to happen some time, and why people think that the conclusion of Iga Swiatek's very long (37) match win streak wasn't likely to happen at a time when Alizé Cornet was on the other side of the net is a mystery to me. It may not have had "upset" written all over it, but it was definitely there in a good-sized, tasteful, watermark. Cornet loves grass; Swiatek is uncomfortable on it. The Frenchwoman remains, for me, the biggest underachiever on tour; when she's on--look out. The world number 1 found that out today in the third round when Cornet defeated her 6-4, 6-2.

To make matters even more awkward for the world number 1, she had never played Cornet before. The Frenchwoman entered the court bearing "the look," and she never backed down. She took advantage of Swiatek's discomfort in the usual Cornet way--by taking away Swiatek's rhythm, finding the angles, hitting expert drop shots, and occasionally displaying her Lenglen-like athleticism.  

"I'm like good wine," Cornet said after the match. "In France, good wine always ages well."

Paula Badosa, whose fortunes had turned downward a bit prior to Wimbledon, upset two-time champion Petra Kvitova 7-5, 7-6 in a closely contested match that could have certainly gone either way. Also losing in the third round was former champion Angie Kerber, who was defeated 6-4, 7-5 by Elise Mertens. Kerber reached the semifinals last year, in which she was defeated by eventual champion Ash Barty. 

Simona Halep is the only remaining former champion in the draw. Serena Williams was defeated by Harmony Tan (who just keeps winning) in the opening round, and 9th seed and former champion Garbine Muguruza melted down in the first round when she lost to Greet Minnen. Not for the first time, something troubling is going on with Muguruza, and it's sad to see the effects of whatever it is.

There were other upsets: 2nd seed Anett Kontaveit went out in the second round. Also gone are 5th seed Maria Sakkari, 6th seed Karolina Pliskova, 7th seed Danielle Collins, 8th seed Jessie Pegula, 10th seed Emma Raducanu, and 11th seed Coco Gauff. 

Fresh off of her Bad Homburg win, Caroline Garcia is still in the mix. Garcia, in fact, was the player who took Emma Raducanu out of competition with a straight sets victory. 3rd seed Ons Jabeur and the never-predictable Alona Ostapenko are still around, too. And then there's 2019 champion Simona Halep, who defeated the considerable Czech talent, Karolina Muchova, and who also defeated Kirsten Flipkens in the final singles match of her career.

Here is the round of 16 draw:

Alizé Cornet vs. Ajla Tomljanovic
Elena Rybakina (17) vs. Petra Martic
Paula Badosa (4) vs. Simona Halep (16)
Amanda Anisimova (20) vs. Harmony Tan
Marie Bouzkova vs. Caroline Garcia
Elise Mertens (24) vs. Ons Jabeur (3)
Tatjana Maria vs. Alona Ostapenko (12)
Heather Watson vs. Jule Niemeier

More than half of these players are unseeded, but that group includes former world number 4 Garcia. It's also no surprise to see Cornet and Martic in the final 16. As for Halep, in order to hold another Venus Rosewater Dish, she has to first get past Badosa--that's a match worth watching.

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