SO yesterday’s Manic Monday at Wimbledon lived up to the billing alright.
A British man and woman making it through to the quarter-finals for the first time since 1973 was the main news, but the real drama was provided by Gilles Muller’s sensational win over Rafael Nadal 15-13 in the fifth set. However, there is little time to look back as the women’s quarter-finals are the main focus of today’s WIMBLEDON WRAP.
Jo Konta v Simona Halep
Centre Court, approx. 4pm
FOR the first time in years, there is a real buzz ahead of the second Tuesday at SW19. Too often, ladies’ quarter-final day has felt like a day to take a deep breath and relax in between the men’s action, but not this time. That is single-handedly thanks to Jo Konta.
Great Britain has waited 33 years to have a female in the last eight at Wimbledon. Many people weren’t even born when Jo Durie lost to Hana Mandlikova in 1984, and Konta is one of them. There have been 18 quarter-finals featuring a British male in the intervening period, but there is a keen sense of anticipation ahead of Konta’s match with Simona Halep on Centre Court.
Jo has already had two great struggles against Donna Vekic and Caroline Garcia to reach this stage and it would surprise no-one if today was a third. Halep is the World No.2, but the Romanian will replace Angelique Kerber at the top of the rankings if she wins this match, so there is so much riding on it. Konta will try to attack, the Romanian will naturally defend so the contrast of styles should produce a riveting spectacle.
Venus Williams v Jelena Ostapenko
Centre Court, approx. 2.30pm
IF ever there was a clash of the generations at Wimbledon, it’s this one. When Williams made her debut in the singles here in 1997, Ostapenko was not quite three weeks old. Today, they meet as equals and fellow Grand Slam winners.
Williams is the only female left who knows what it’s like to win Wimbledon, having lifted the Venus Rosewater dish on five occasions. It could have been many more, but for her younger sister Serena. Ostapenko is fresh from winning the French Open last month against all the odds. She was ranked 47th and unseeded, but the Latvian showed no nerves as her fearless brand of booming groundstrokes took her to glory in Paris. She also won the Girls’ singles at Wimbledon three years ago, so her pedigree on grass should not be under-estimated.
But this is Ostapenko’s debut on the most famous court in tennis. At 37, Venus is an old hand on this stage. It’s the Lifetime Achievement winner against the Best Newcomer and something has to give with only one prize at stake.
Garbine Muguruza v Svetlana Kuznetsova
Court 1, 1pm
GARBINE MUGURUZA charmed Wimbledon when she made it to the final two years ago, only to come up just short against Serena Williams. She claimed her maiden Grand Slam at the French Open in 2016, but like so many before her, the Spaniard went into a tailspin and the results went downhill as she struggled to cope with the increased expectations.
But at Wimbledon this year, there have been signs that Muguruza has been re-finding her groove. Aided by former Wimbledon Champion Conchita Martinez, the 23-year-old is playing well on grass and had an excellent result against Angelique Kerber yesterday. The experienced Svetlana Kuznetsova will offer a big test, but Muguruza will hope to be the one smiling at the end.
Magdalena Rybarikova v Coco Vandeweghe
Court 1, approx 3pm
THIS is a quarter-final that no one would have expected but presents a huge opportunity to both women. Magdalena Rybarikova accounted for World No.3 and tournament favourite Karolina Pliskova. Coco Vandeweghe took out Caroline Wozniacki yesterday.
American Vandeweghe has the big game that is a natural fit for this surface. With Aussie Wimbledon Champion Pat Cash in her corner, there are high hopes that she could be a dark-horse to be the winner on Saturday. Rybarikova had been beyond the third round of a Grand Slam until this week, so this new territory. But the Slovakian’s summer in England currently reads, played 18, won 17, so she is in hot form. And at the French Open in May, who did she dump out in straight sets in round one? That’s right – Coco Vandweghe.
Seed in danger:
RAFA NADAL’s epic clash with Gilles Muller meant that Novak Djokovic never got on court yesterday. So it’s a lovely early appetiser for the Centre Court today when the Serbian strides on at midday to take on Adrian Mannarino. This Frenchman, similarly to Muller, has a left-handed game that suits the grass perfectly, and he has already taken out Feliciano Lopez and Gael Monfils.