Thursday, July 29, 2021

In-form Liudmila Samsonova powers past Sloane Stephens to reach Wimbledon last 16

Wimbledon 2021 1

LONDON, July 2: Russian wildcard Liudmila Samsonova overcame a mid-match wobble to stun former US Open champion Sloane Stephens 6-2, 2-6, 6-4, progressing to the last 16 of a Grand Slam for the first time at Wimbledon on Friday.

Less than a month ago, Samsonova was still looking to break into the top 100 in the rankings while trying to qualify for the Berlin grasscourt event.
The 22-year-old racked up seven straight wins to win her maiden WTA title in the German capital, becoming the first qualifier to win a WTA 500 event since Tsvetana Pironkova won Sydney in 2014.
Samsonova’s strong serve and thunderous baseline hitting was once again on display on Court One as she broke Stephens’ serve three times to claim the opening set.
Stephens, chasing a second week appearance at the All England Club for the first time since 2013, fought back with some brilliant court coverage and counter-punching but once again fell behind early in the final set.
Samsonova held her nerve and saved a crucial break point in the eighth game to maintain her slim lead, before sealing victory by sending down her fourth ace of the match.
“I want to thank the tournament organisers for this opportunity,” said world number 65 Samsonova, who will next face eighth seed Karolina Pliskova for a place in the quarter-finals.
“I don’t have the words to describe, I’m so happy.”
Jabeur casts spell over Muguruza to reach Wimbledon last 16
Tunisian Ons Jabeur cast a spell over former champion Garbine Muguruza and dazzled the Centre Court crowd to reach the Wimbledon fourth round with a 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 victory on Friday.
Jabeur dipped into her box of tricks to outflank the powerful 11th seed who was slowly driven to distraction by an opponent who gave a masterclass in angles and spins.
The artful 26-year-old showed great resilience to fend off Muguruza’s heavy hitting early on and eventually took control to reach the last 16 at Wimbledon for the first time.
Jabeur, who last month became the first Arab woman to win a WTA title when she triumphed on grass in Birmingham, will face 2020 French Open winner Iga Swiatek on Monday.
The Tunisian began nervously with a couple of double-faults to drop her opening service game but from then on she gave Muguruza a torrid time as took the 2017 winner out of her comfort zone.
To her credit former world number one Muguruza won the opening set as her power game just about held sway but she never looked comfortable trying to solve the Jabeur puzzle.
From 3-3 in the second set Jabeur began to take control and there was an air of slight desperation about Muguruza as struggled to figure out what her opponent would do next.
Jabeur, the 21st seed, broke Muguruza’s serve twice to forge 5-1 ahead in the deciding set and held her nerve when she served at 5-2, sealing a memorable win with a sensational forehand, her 44th winner in a superb performance.
“This is the best day of my career,” Jabeur, a role model for Arab sportswomen, said on court to an appreciative crowd.
“I was a bit nervous today. She plays unbelievable on grass, it was difficult in the first set but after that I stayed more calm. When I play loose and good everything gets better.”
Swiatek crushes Begu to reach Wimbledon last 16
Former French Open champion Iga Swiatek stormed into the Wimbledon fourth round on Friday as her relentless pressure proved too much for Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu, who managed a solitary mark on the scoreboard in a 6-1, 6-0 demolition.
Poland’s Swiatek, seeded seven, arrived at Wimbledon having previously won only one match on grass but she looked very much at home as she suffocated her opponent from the start to reach the last 16 with her third straight-sets victory.
The 20-year-old, who won the Roland Garros title in 2020, dropped only eight points on serve in the match and half of them came in just one game.
She broke her opponent twice to race into a 5-0 lead, before Begu finally held serve, and then showed some grit to go with the punishing consistency of her ground strokes when she saved three break points to hold and take the first set.
The second set was even more one sided as the Swiatek swept away the dying embers of Begu’s resistance to romp into the next round.
Second seed Sabalenka into Wimbledon last 16 for the first time
Second seed Aryna Sabalenka crushed Colombian teenager Maria Camila Osorio Serrano to reach the fourth round at Wimbledon on Friday although a late stutter took the sheen off what had been an otherwise ruthless 6-0, 6-3 display.
Sabalenka, who had been given a scare by lowly ranked Briton Katie Boulter in the previous round, romped to the first set and looked set to wrap up victory with her opponent winning just a solitary game.
She was made to wait, however, after being broken in her penultimate service game and while Sabalenka’s celebrations were somewhat muted when she eventually finished the job, her 19-year-old opponent wore a big smile as the pair shook hands at the net.
It had been an otherwise dominant display from 23-year-old Belarusian Sabalenka, who broke Osorio Serrano’s serve six times to reach the fourth round at Wimbledon for the first time in her career.
Next up for Sabalenka will be an encounter with Kazakhstan’s 18th seed Elena Rybakina who reached the last 16 with a 6-1, 6-4 win over American Shelby Rogers.
Pliskova trumps Martincova in Czech battle to move into Wimbledon last-16
Eighth seed Karolina Pliskova beat Tereza Martincova 6-3, 6-3 in the battle of Czechs on Court Two to move into the last-16 at Wimbledon on Friday.
Former world number one Pliskova fell at the first hurdle in the tune-up tournaments in Berlin and Eastbourne last month but the 29-year-old has yet to drop a set at Wimbledon.
The last time the two met was in the first round of the US Open in 2019 and there was little to separate them then with Pliskova advancing only after winning tiebreaks in two sets.
Although Pliskova made 36 unforced errors and nine double faults, she fired 30 winners past her compatriot who struggled with her first serve and managed to convert only one break point opportunity.

Pliskova, who has reached at least the quarter-finals of every Grand Slam barring Wimbledon, will play either American Sloane Stephens or Russian wildcard Liudmila Samsonova in the next round. (Reuters)