The focus on Friday at Wimbledon was the bottom half of the women’s draw with the first eight matches from the third round. Today was my favourite day of watching tennis so far with some great matches and not as much going, at least compared to the first four days! The schedule was an odd one with just one women’s match up at 11:30am on Court 18 between the number 21 seed, Caroline Garcia against Madison Brengle.
The flood gates have opened… after reaching the last 16 of a Slam for the first time in her career at the French Open, Garcia has backed it up with another career first by winning through to the 4th round of Wimbledon. Serving well and increasingly coming forward with success, winning 21 of 27 net points, Garcia beat Brengle, 6-4 6-3. Garcia’s run at the French Open seems to have had a very positive impact on her.
The women are bringing it this year on Centre Court and for the third straight day, a fascinating three set tussle. For the second time this week, Victoria Azarenka came from a set down as she defeated a gutsy effort from Heather Watson, 3-6 6-1 6-4.
Watson went toe-to-toe with Azarenka in the opener with her serve being particularly impressive. The Brit won her first ever set against Azarenka having lost in straight sets on six previous occasions. Unsurprisingly, Azarenka came back in the second set as she began to get a better read on the return and pounced on Watson’s crumbling forehand. As the pair were locked at 3-3 in the deciding set, Azarenka became more secure on her groundstrokes. After three successive breaks, Azarenka saved two break points in the final game to serve out the match with Watson missing key returns.
This was a very entertaining contest and hats off to Heather for a brilliant grass court season. I really, really, really hope she can use this as a springboard going forward. Sadly, it hasn’t happened in the past. I was thrilled to see both players put on a good show. I’m still a bit disappointed that the schedulers copped out and didn’t put two women’s matches on Centre with Venus vs. Naomi a prime candidate. If there was ever going to be a day, I thought this was it!
Azarenka advances to a fascinating fourth rounder with Simona Halep. The Romanian player survived a gripping battle with Peng Shuai, 6-4 7-6(7). Halep saved a set point in the second set tiebreak with a volley winner – it was a convincing move forward from Halep! On her first match point, Halep challenged a Peng groundstroke that she thought was out, but in fact turned out to be in. This could have been a turning point, instead Halep responded with an ace and a forceful return to win. Impressive.
Halep said in press she was happy with her level and is pleased to have improved with each match.
Ana Konjuh reached the fourth round of Wimbledon for the first time in her career, knocking out the number eight seed, Dominika Cibulkova, 7-6(3) 3-6 6-4 in two hours and 36 minutes.
Konjuh fought back from 1-5 down in the first set and saved two set points at 5-6 before playing a fab tiebreak, which she won with two sensational backhand winners. Some of Konjuh’s winners were breathtaking! Cibulkova held a ten-deuce game at the start of the second set and saved six break point en route to winning the second set.
Konjuh found her A-game again in the decider to roll through the first four games of the decider. Nerves creeped in serving for the match at *5-2 as Cibulkova looked to pounce. Konjuh’s serve got her out of trouble at the end as she posted just the second top ten win of her career so far. I’m thrilled for Ana after what happened at Wimbledon last year!
Still yet to drop a set, Elina Svitolina is one of five players on Friday who have reached the last 16 of Wimbledon for the first time in her career. The world number five achieved this with a 6-1 7-5 win over Carina Witthoeft. The first set was a breeze but the second set was anything but – Witthoeft served for the second set at *5-4. Svitolina won the last three games to book her place in the Magic Monday line-up. Witthoeft did well to make it this far and is now 0-5 in Slam third rounders.
Johanna Konta had a straightforward win over Maria Sakkari, 6-4 6-1 on No.1 Court to quadruple her number of wins at Wimbledon. Full credit to Jo for this run after that scary fall at Eastbourne. She looks a threat heading into the second week.
Jelena Ostapenko won in STRAIGHT SETS for the first time since the third round of the French Open to beat Camila Giorgi, 7-5 7-5. The Italian player served for both sets at *5-3, but threw in error-strewn games on both occasions. Ostapenko then took control of both sets for a great win. This is really exciting to see a first time Slam winner continue in following tournaments in such impressive form.
In the final match and the most anticipated of the day, Venus Williams edged Naomi Osaka in two tight sets, 7-6(3) 6-4. It was a very fun match and I was kind of hoping for a third set! In the first set, Osaka came from a break down to force the tiebreak. The Japanese player opened with three stunning winners, but Venus responded in style, winning seven straight point to claim a virtual tiebagel.
The second set was pretty close with just one break of serve for Venus and Osaka missing big on one volley in that particular game (see reaction below). Venus’s serve came up trumps at the end. I’m really excited about Osaka on grass in the future. On this occasion, experience prevailed and Venus moves through to the last 16 of Wimbledon for the 15th time!
The quartet of 4th round matches from the bottom half of the women’s draw is all set… BRING. IT. ON.
Loved this from Angie and Kirsten on Twitter!
We love you, Petra.
An update on Beth.
And finally, the top half of the women’s draw will be played on Saturday and I have written snap previews about my three favourite matches of the day – Caroline Wozniacki vs. Anett Kontaveit, Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Timea Bacsinszky and CoCo Vandeweghe vs. Alison Riske