For the first time since 2011, Maria Sharapova is into the last eight at Wimbledon. A longer break since Roland Garros and a neat draw have helped Maria progress through her first four rounds without the loss of any sets. Sharapova was tested in her fourth round match against Zarina Diyas but ultimately prevailed, 6-4 6-4. Diyas had points for a double break in the second set but was unable to take advantage of her opportunities. Sharapova’s route through the draw has passed by Johanna Konta, Richel Hogenkamp, Irina-Camelia Begu and Diyas… that’s a nice draw.
Sharapova will play the American, CoCo Vandeweghe in the quarters who has broken new ground at a Grand Slam this fortnight. Vandeweghe had only once made it to the third round of a Slam, achieving that feat at the Australian Open earlier this year. She’s had a brilliant fortnight, defeating Karolina Pliskova, Sam Stosur and Lucie Safarova… even more impressively is that she’s beaten them all in straight sets. Against Safarova, Vandeweghe won, 7-6(1) 7-6(4), playing the better tennis in the two tiebreaks. Lucie served for the first set at *5-4 but played a poor game to get broken. This seemed to rejuvenate CoCo who gave off a lot of positive body language and cruised through the first set tiebreak.
Lucie had her chances to get the break in the second set but failed to convert; it reminded me of her match against Dominika Cibulkova at Eastbourne where she just didn’t take her chances. CoCo lost her break at 4-4 with a passive game, but she held her nerve to get it into the tiebreak where some big serving saw her across the finish line. Of course, i’m sad for Lucie but she’s had such a great month. Also, a part of me had accepted her losing in her first round against Alison Riske (where she was on the brink of defeat) so every round after that felt like a bonus. If she had reached the quarters I would have fancied her over Maria, but that’s not how it worked out… CoCo was fully deserving of her win.
This will be a first career match-up between Vandeweghe and Sharapova. CoCo has the weapons to make this a very awkward match for Maria and she has a pretty feisty atttitude that should serve her in good stead for playing Maria at this stage of a Slam. Her serve will win her many free points and her movement has definitely improved although it remains a weakness. Based on experience i’d go for Maria but i’m expecting a competitive match.
Prediction: Sharapova d. Vandeweghe in 2 very tight sets