The bottom half of the women’s draw presents a mountain of opportunities for the eight players that remain. There were more upsets on Friday and just two of top 16 seeds from this half have advanced to the second week. I’m excited for day 6 which has an awesome schedule! Read on for the highlights from day 5.
Best story 📚
There were four players on Friday who advanced to the second week of a Slam for the first time in their career. From a British perspective, the highlight of the day was Heather Watson breaking new ground in her 43rd (!) main draw appearance at a Slam as she beat Kaja Juvan, 7-6(6) 6-2.
There was little to separate the pair in the first set. I thought that Juvan had more tools at her disposal but wasn’t necessarily using them at the right time. Juvan was more likely to hit a winner… and also an error! Watson missed three set points in the tiebreak before Juvan blinked with a big double fault on the fourth set point.
I thought this had three sets written all over it so I was surprised when Juvan completely folded in the second set. Watson’s rally tolerance was superb and she was steady, yet willing to take some chances when the opportunity arose. Closing out was never going to be easy. 5-0 in the second set became 5-2. I thought Watson didn’t do a lot wrong in those final few games. There was the odd nervy shot but it was mostly Juvan raising her level which Watson acknowledged in the post-match interview.
Watson kept chipping away and finally brought up a first match point. A cracking first serve and finished off with a gorgeous volley winner. What a match point! It’s been a tough few years for Watson on the tour and prior to Wimby, she had racked up just six main draw wins at WTA level. Even the grass court season had been a challenge as Watson picked up an injury in Nottingham and didn’t make it past the first round at Eastbourne after reaching the main draw as a lucky loser. It’s such an inspiring feel-good story. One of those stories where words don’t really do it justice. I’m beaming for Heather!
It’s become a thing that when a player saves match points, they instantly become extra dangerous in a draw. Elise Mertens saved two match points in the second round on the brink of defeat against Panna Udvardy. Two days later and Mertens has knocked out the former Wimbledon champion, Angelique Kerber, 6-4 7-5. I cannot hide my disappointment that we’re not getting Angie-Ons in the fourth round 😭.
In hindsight, i’ve realised this is a tough match up for Kerber. Kerber was trying to be the aggressor and just wasn’t able to consistently put the ball past Mertens who defended valiantly. Mertens served much better than Kerber who landed only 53% of first serves in play. Kerber had her chances to force a decider. Kerber double faulted the game away when trying to serve out the second set at *5-4. Mertens regained control from there and won the match on a frankly outrageous match point.
Mertens’s recent record at the Slams is remarkable! Mertens has reached the third round at her last 18 Slams and made the second week of a Slam for the 12th time in her career.
Tatjana Maria sliced and diced her way to a huge upset win over the number five seed, Maria Sakkari, 6-3 7-5. First time in the second week of a Slam for Maria! It’s just not happening for Sakkari at the moment who led 5-2 in the second set and wasted two set points.
Marie Boukova was absolutely relentless as she defeated the number 28 seed, Alison Riske-Amritraj, 6-2 6-3. Riske had to hit one, two, three and many more shots to get the ball past Bouzkova. Naturally, errors creeped into Riske’s game. Bouzkova didn’t drop serve and held all eight of her service games. Bouzkova into the second week of a Slam for the first time in her career and surely the first of many.
Best of the rest 🎾
Jelena Ostapenko was the first player into the second week, winning 12 of the last 14 games to beat Irina-Camelia Begu, 3-6 6-1 6-1. Ostapenko committed 16 unforced errors in the first set. She tidied up her game with just 11 unforced errors in the second and third sets combined and increasingly pounced on Begu’s faltering serve. I thought Ostapenko would find a way to mess up this dream of a draw 😂. Actually, it’s been reasonably smooth sailing through the first week.
Prior to this Slam, Jule Niemeier had never won a main draw match at a Slam. Now she has three of them! Niemeier edged a tense, tight and tumultuous three setter against Lesia Tsurenko, 6-4 3-6 6-3. In a sea of breaks in the third set, Niemeier’s lone service hold at *3-2 was the difference. It was nice to see new facets to Niemeier’s game from the Kontaveit match with a series of dazzling drop shots.
Ons Jabeur has spent just three hours and six minutes on the match court en route to the second week. Smooth sailing for Ons who beat Diane Parry, 6-2 6-3, in the first match of the day on Centre Court.
Caroline Garcia hit 16 aces and played aggressively in the key moments to see off Zhang Shuai in two tiebreak sets, 7-6(3) 7-6(5). After three consecutive first round exits at Wimbledon, Garcia is back into the last 16 of Wimbledon for the second time in her career. Eight wins and counting for CarGar…
DAY 5 MEDIA HIGHLIGHTS
Hot shot 🔥
Garcia was quick to praise Zhang in her post-match interview as one of the nicest players on tour 😊.
Snap of the day 📸
That first picture! 😮
Final thoughts 🤔
Day 5 was the day my draw imploded! Watson winning was my highlight 🥰. From here, i’m rooting hard for a Petra-Ons final.