A Wonderful Wimbledon quarterfinal lineup — Quotes from Week 1 — Must-click women’s tennis links

The IX: Tennis Tuesday with Joey Dillon, July 11, 2023

Howdy, y’all and Happy Tennis Tuesday! Our Elite Eight for this year’s Wimbledon is set:

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I would like the record to reflect that all four of my semifinalists are alive and I have 5/8. Honorable mention to Ons Jabeur, who I had losing to Petra Kvitova in the fourth round, with the opposite happening. Still, this quarterfinal lineup is loaded with firepower and juicy matchups.

(1) Iga Swiatek vs. (WC) Elina Svitolina
Head-to-Head: 1-0 Iga Swiatek
Honestly, I didn’t expect to see Elina Svitolina making two quarterfinals in her first two Grand Slams back from maternity leave. She was outplayed by Venus Williams in the first round before the five-time Wimbledon champion got injured in the first set and then posted a marathon victory in the fourth round over Victoria Azarenka. She also posted wins over Elise Mertens and Sofia Kenin, so her road thus far has actually been very impressive. Iga Swiatek on the other hand, completed the career Quarterfinal Slam by saving two match points against Belinda Bencic. Leading into that match, she was utterly dominant and making a joke out of anyone saying grass was her worst surface. Again, she’s a former junior champion at SW19 — she can play. I think the Bencic match was a big wakeup call for the World No. 1, combined with Svitolina having an emotional and physical battle against Azarenka should help Swiatek. If Svitolina loses, she still has Harry Styles in her corner for a concert. That’s a win in itself, in my opinion.
Prediction: Swiatek in 2

(3) Jessica Pegula vs. Marketa Vondrousova
Head-to-Head: First Meeting
Jessica Pegula is also another name to get all four Grand Slam quarterfinals under her belt. After losing a tight second set tiebreak in the first round, she hasn’t dropped a set since. While her scorelines in her previous three matches seem dominant, she’s had some blips and large leads lost. Still, the American is one of the most consistent performers at Grand Slams and hopes to break her quarterfinal curse against Vondrousova, the 2019 Roland Garros finalist. Vondrousova has quietly compiled a fantastic run to her first Wimbledon quarterfinal, taking out No. 12 Veronika Kudermetova and No. 20 Donna Vekic before losing her first set of the fortnight to 2022 quarterfinalist, No. 32 Marie Bouzkova. While the Czech has had her best results on clay, her lefty spin and crafty groundstrokes can make anyone go crazy. Pegula being the lone quarterfinalist to not make a semifinal could hinder the American, but I think she finally breaks the curse here with a tight first set, but a win in straights.
Prediction: Pegula in 2

(3) Elena Rybakina vs. (6) Ons Jabeur
Head-to-Head: Tied 2-2 (last meeting: 2022 Wimbledon final)

We have a rematch of last year’s Wimbledon final, where Elena Rybakina escaped in a three-setter over Ons Jabeur. Both players are playing some incredible tennis at the All England Club. Both have lost a set en route to the quarterfinals — Rybakina in the first set of her tournament to Shelby Rogers and Jabeur to Bianca Andreescu in the third round. While Rybakina’s serve has been near-perfect — only getting broken in the first set to Rogers — Jabeur is now in her third Wimbledon quarterfinal and made a near-mockery of two-time champion Petra Kvitova in the fourth round. This match should be the most fun out of all four quarterfinals — the power game of Rybakina and the entire toolbox Jabeur brings to the court. Don’t be surprised if this also goes to a third set, but bring the popcorn.
Prediction: Rybakina in 3

(2) Aryna Sabalenka vs. (18) Madison Keys
Head-to-Head: Tied 1-1

Lets get ready to rumblleeeeeeeeeee. A friend texted me, jokingly asking how long the average rally will be in this power showdown. I responded with “two, if the ball doesn’t explode off of the serve.” Sabalenka and Keys met on the grass in Berlin in 2021 with Keys emerging the victor, 7-5 in the third set. With the way both are playing, I expect something similar to be honest. Sabalenka had to escape Varvara Gracheva in the second round, while Keys seemingly looked all but out in the fourth round to qualifier Mirra Andreeva, coming back from a set and 4-1 game point down before rallying back. While both are among the biggest hitters on the WTA, this match is on Sabalenka’s racquet. If her serve is clicking and she can move Keys laterally, she should come through. However, Keys is on a high winning Eastbourne and looks to complete her own set of Grand Slam semifinals with the win. This is my most-anticipated matchup because we should see some Big Babe Grasscourt Tennis that I unequivocally LOVE. This is also the match my gut says could be the lone/biggest upset of the quarterfinals. Stay tuned!
Prediction: Sabalenka in 3

I’m going to continue my predictions from last week where all the Top 4 seeds make the semifinals and Sabalenka defeats Swiatek to win it all. Until then, play ball!

Onto links!

This Week in Women’s Tennis

After Victoria Azarenka was booed off Center Court following her loss to Elina Svitolina, the WTA gave a fluff statement about Ukrainians not shaking hands with Russian/Belarussian players, especially those with ties to the Russian state or Vladimir Putin:

After her second round singles and first round mixed doubles losses, Anett Kontaveit said goodbye to professional tennis due to a chronic back injury. The Estonian sat down with WTA Insider to reflect on her groundbreaking career and what plans she has in retirement.

Alex Macpherson has been delivering with some features on the lesser-known players at Wimbledon including Kaja Juvan overcoming the death of her father and Tamara Korpatsch the latest lucky loser to fare well at SW19.

Peter Bodo delves into the WTA’s fight for equal prize money with the ATP and what that means in terms of potential — and perhaps unfavorable — business dealings.

Danielle Collins may have fallen down the rankings because of injury, but the 2022 Australian Open finalist, says the grass is greener at a tournament like Wimbledon.

Caroline Wozniacki received a wildcard into the Western & Southern Open — the tournament she made her WTA main draw debut in 2005, while Venus Williams was awarded one for the National Bank Open in Montreal.

Ekaterina Alexandrova finally got over a few humps recently — a terrible third set tiebreak record and getting past a Grand Slam third round.

I really liked this feature with Li Na and how much Wimbledon met to the Chinese legend:

Already playing her 15th Wimbledon as a professional, Victoria Azarenka had some great and thorough advice for younger players just starting out.

Chris Eubanks is having a career tournament at Wimbledon and the ATP player gives specific thanks to Coco Gauff and Naomi Osaka for their support. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Gauff-Eubanks mixed doubles team at the US Open.

Two Open Era records happened this week: The longest Grand Slam women’s tiebreaker was featured in the final set between Lesia Tsurenko and Ana Bogdan and Ekaterina Alexandrova defeated Madison Brengle in Wimbledon’s first three-tiebreaker women’s match — and fourth-ever at a Grand Slam.

Ten years after making her Grand Slam semifinal breakthrough at Wimbledon, Kirsten Flipkens called it a career after her loss in the women’s doubles competition:

Natalija Stevanovic made her Grand Slam main draw debut by qualifying and found herself in the third round after upsetting former finalist Karolina Pliskova in the opening round. Learn more about the Serb here.

WTA Legend Justine Henin received the Philippe Chatrier Award, the highest honor recognized by the ITF.

Lastly, I just have to include this in some capacity:

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Talk about champagne problems:

Five at The IX: Quotes from Wimbledon

Q. We’ve asked you some version of this question before, but with the lack of precedent for Arab women in tennis, how did you maintain your self-belief? What did you lean on to say, I can keep going, the results will come?

ONS JABEUR: There is ups and downs obviously. I don’t know. When I picked up the racquet, it’s like I was born to play tennis and I was born to just achieve this dream.

I was telling my mom, I want to win a Grand Slam, I want to be this, I want to be No. 1. I never knew what’s being a Grand Slam champion or playing in this sport.

I got to discover it at the young age, playing tournaments. I was a dreamer. I was born this way. I think no matter what you do, to me I’ll always believe that I can do anything in this world.

Yeah, I kept doing my thing. I kept enjoying. Obviously Melanie, who is my mental coach, did help me a lot believing more in myself. I do believe I can believe more in myself in this level.

Hopefully with every work that we’re doing together, I can improve more mentally and be able to maintain and be on these higher stages.

Q. Your pregnancy comeback is just going really well. What do you credit that to? Is it your work, or do you think there is a little bit you just can’t believe you’re playing so well?

ELINA SVITOLINA: Well, I expected to play well and, you know, playing for so many years in the top level, you want to play well, you want to come back to that level, you want to play in the big stages, win these big matches. So you kind of expect, but in a way, of course, is very difficult road to come back to your best form, to your best game.

I just try to not be so hard on myself when I was not winning so many matches. I knew that I was playing the right way. Just few points I was not playing aggressive, I was not, you know, taking so much risk. And now everything is back to good, and I’m feeling that I’m in a good form right now. Since Strasbourg I have been striking the ball really well and feeling really well.

I cannot compare it to what it was before the pregnancy. Now is very different. It’s like something new in my game. Also my mindset is very fresh now, I’m really motivated like never before.

Yeah, just happy with where I am right now.

Q. How much, if any, significance do you place on kind of checking off the last quarterfinal of the slams?

JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, it’s definitely really cool. To say that I’ve done that at all four is something I’ve wanted to say. Obviously I hope I can do more than that. But at the same time, it’s pretty cool to say that I’ve done that at every slam.

Just the last couple years to be able to accomplish all of that is pretty crazy. Especially here, I feel like Wimbledon is really special to make the final eight as well.

Yeah, it was definitely a goal. Yeah, I’m really happy I get to kind of mark that off.

Q. I think it’s right in saying the last time you made the quarters here, you also played a qualifier in the fourth round, you came from a set down to win that match. Can you compare the Madison Keys who made the quarters in 2015 and the one that made it this time?

MADISON KEYS: I don’t really remember her. So it’s very hard to tell you what I was like in 2015.

Q. Your family was very emotional. A lot of people there for you. What was it like to have them there?

ANETT KONTAVEIT: Yeah, it was incredible to have Court 18 full of people, so many people cheering for me.

Of course, the match didn’t go the way I wanted it to, but I was so happy to be able to play in front of so many people, that so many people that love me were able to see me play for the last time – in singles.

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Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
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By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
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Written by Joey Dillon