April 17, 2024 1:29 pm





Svitolina’s Thrilling Run to Wimbledon Semi-Finals as Djokovic Aims for History

New mum Elina Svitolina stuns Iga Swiatek to reach the Wimbledon semi-finals

New mum Elina Svitolina shocked world number one Iga Swiatek to reach the last four at Wimbledon on Tuesday, striking an emotional blow for Ukraine, as Novak Djokovic targeted a record-equalling 46th major semi-final.

World number 76 Svitolina, who gave birth last October and only returned to the tour in April, came through 7-5, 6-7 (5/7), 6-2 despite being a break down in both of the first two sets against the reigning US Open and French Open champion.

Svitolina aims for championship match

Svitolina, also a semi-finalist in 2019, will take on Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic for a place in Saturday’s championship match. Unseeded Vondrousova made the semi-finals by seeing off fourth-ranked Jessica Pegula 6-4, 2-6, 6-4.

Svitolina, playing on a wild card, has reached the last four by defeating a quartet of Grand Slam title winners in Venus Williams, Sofia Kenin, Victoria Azarenka, and now Swiatek, who was playing in her first quarter-final at the All England Club. She said she intended to “enjoy the moment and have a beer”.

“If you had told me before the tournament I would get to the semi-finals, I’d say you were crazy,” said Svitolina, who also made the last eight at the French Open last month.

She could have had the match wrapped up in straight sets when she led 4/1 in the second-set tiebreaker before Swiatek hit back. However, the 28-year-old Ukrainian composed herself, racing away to a double break in the decider.

“I told Elina at the net that I am rooting for her. I want to see her win the title,” said Swiatek.

Svitolina’s win kept alive the prospect of a politically charged final between her and Belarusian world number two Aryna Sabalenka. Belarus is a key ally of Russia in the war in Ukraine.

Djokovic targets record-equalling 46th major semi-final

Djokovic, chasing a record-equalling eighth Wimbledon title and 24th Grand Slam, plays his 400th match at the majors when he meets Andrey Rublev in his quarter-final. The 36-year-old boasts a 3-1 winning record against Rublev including a straight-sets demolition in January’s Australian Open quarter-finals when he lost just seven games.

“Andrey is a fantastic player who’s got one of the best forehands in the game. Brings a lot of intensity to the court with his grunts,” said the world number two. “He kind of scares off his opponents across the net! Extremely nice guy.”

Rublev is one of four Russian and Belarusian players – three men, one woman — to make the quarter-finals.

The winner of that quarter-final will face either eighth-seeded Jannik Sinner or world number 92 Roman Safiullin of Russia. Sinner reached the same stage in 2022, losing to Djokovic from two sets up. Slender in frame, Sinner packs a huge punch, delivering the third-fastest serve of the tournament so far at 139 mph (223.7 km/h). The 25-year-old Safiullin had never previously got past the second round at a Slam but has knocked out two former semi-finalists in Roberto Bautista Agut and Denis Shapovalov.

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