Great Britain’s Emma Raducanu continued her Wimbledon fairytale with a sensational win over Marketa Vondrousova to make the third round.
The 18-year-old was only handed a wild card into the main draw at late notice but backed up a round one victory over Vitalia Diatchenko to claim the biggest triumph of her career on Wednesday with a 6-2, 6-4 success on Court 12.
A mixture of powerful hitting and incredible composure from Raducanu saw her deservedly shock the world number 42 in one hour and 12 minutes.
Raducanu, who was 338 in the rankings ahead of her main draw debut at the All England Club, has set up a third-round meeting with Sorana Cirstea, who knocked out 12th seed Victoria Azarenka earlier in the day.
Vacuum at summit of women’s tennis crying out to be filled
By Oliver Brown
Ashleigh Barty is a world No 1 yet to reach a Wimbledon quarter-final, and one who toiled here to vanquish a Russian Centre Court debutant better known for her chess prowess. Aryna Sabalenka is a No 2 seed making her maiden third-round appearance on these lawns, having struggled to overcome a British wildcard. In just four days, six of the top 10 seeds have been scattered to the wind, sparking no little concern about what life after Serena Williams will look like.
This state of flux was in stark evidence at last month’s French Open, where Barbora Krejcikova, once known primarily as a doubles specialist, was the last woman standing. It is becoming a recurrent theme at Wimbledon, too, with Williams’ withdrawal through injury, allied to the absences of Naomi Osaka and Simona Halep, producing arguably the most open draw in living memory. Barty, long mentored by Evonne Goolagong Cawley, the last ladies’ champion from Australia, will never have a better chance to end her country’s 41-year wait for a repeat.
She is the most deferential of proteges, wearing a scallop dress to honour the outfit chosen by Goolagong for her first Wimbledon triumph half a century ago. The two also share indigenous heritage, with Goolagong a celebrated trailblazer for her remote Aboriginal community and Barty tracing roots to the Ngarigo people of New South Wales through her father, Robert.
There, perhaps, the similarities end. Where Goolagong was famously outgoing by nature, dubbed by Londoners as the “Sunshine Supergirl”, Barty is an instinctive introvert, betraying negligible emotion on court and even less off it. Her fellow Australians adore her for her lack of pretension, but she shows limited warmth in post-match interviews, using the royal “we” to describe her performances and leaning on phrases that belong more in a self-help manual. Twice this week she has spoken of “going out there and putting your dreams out to the universe”.
Barty has held her sport’s No 1 spot for two years, a reflection both of her surprise French Open title in 2019 and of a decision by the women’s tour to freeze the rankings once the pandemic struck. But she scarcely looked like the alpha female against Anna Blinkova, the precocious Muscovite renowned also for her chess skill and her mastery of six languages. During an error-strewn 6-4, 6-3 win, she committed 33 unforced errors and nine double faults, raising doubt as to whether the hip injury she sustained at Roland Garros had fully healed.
“A few things didn’t feel quite right,” Barty acknowledged. “It wasn’t my best serving day, and I felt like I was out of rhythm a little. Some days you feel like you’re eight-foot-tall and can’t miss the box. Other days, you feel like you’re three-foot-nothing, where just getting over the net is a bit of a battle.”
While this transition phase for the women’s game might be bewilderingly unpredictable, it is still producing matches of lustrous quality. The latest highlight was a riveting, 3hr 20min duel between Angelique Kerber and Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo, edged by the German 7-5, 5-7, 6-4. Rarely can the 2018 champion have been forced to grind so relentlessly at her strongest tournament.
Given the dearth of multiple champions left, the stage could yet be seized by 17-year-old Coco Gauff, already proving decisively that her inspired run to the fourth round in 2019 was no false dawn. She was poise personified against Elena Vesnina, dismantling the former semi-finalist with her power and accuracy, weapons that the leading contenders have still to demonstrate with any consistency this week.
On her Centre Court return, Gauff was no longer the giddy sensation, but the versatile talent who recognised that she belonged. “Walking out here feels like you’re walking through a museum,” she said. “I don’t really like the word ‘expectations’. I use the word ‘belief’. I believe that I can win. My goal is always to win the tournament, regardless of my ranking or what people think of me. Everything is much clearer than it was in 2019. My belief is a lot stronger now – the feeling that I can go far.”
Gael Monfils is out
Daniil Medvedev a set to the good
Against Carlos Alcaraz. The world No.2 takes the first set 6-4.
It’s taken her 70 minutes…
…But Angelique Kerber has finally taken the first set against Sara Sorribes Tormo.
Queen’s champion Matteo Berrettini is through
The Italian No.7 seed beat Botic Van De Zandschulp 6-3, 6-4, 7-6.
Can Barty go all the way?
Cam Norrie speaks after his straight sets win over Alex Bolt
On being through to the the round for the first time…
“Unbelievable to be back here – the fans were amazing it made it feel more special. I couldn’t be more pleased to be through to the third round.”
On beat Alex Bolt…
“It was a tricky start, he came out firing. But I could trust the foot today and I was pleased with everything and there was a lot of improvement [compared with first round win].”
On possibly playing Roger Federer in the third round – he faces Richard Gasquet later today…
“Come on, Gasquet! It will be special to play Roger or Richard, they’re both experienced players. I suppose now is the best time to play Roger, [but] he’s still a decent player. He can play!”
Ash Barty speaks
On playing again at Wimbledon…
“I love the surface and happy to be back.”
“She pushed me incredably hard. She played a great match today so I am happy to get through.”
On her season so far…
“It’s been a great year so far and it’s nice to have the fans back in the stands.”
BARTY WINS THE MATCH 6-4, 6-3!!
Barty has two match points on the Blinkova serve and plays a winner on the second of those – it was called out but Barty successfully challenges. They replay the point and Barty wins the match.
Barty was well bellow her best but she’s through. Blinkova played her part in the match and gave the world No.1 plenty to think about.
Barty 6-4, 5-3 Blinkova* (*denotes next server)
Blinkova’s backhands are deep into Barty and from 40-15 up the world No.1 is up against it on her serve at deuce. Again Blinkova goes deep with a backhand, setting up an excellent crosscourt winner. That earns her a break point which she cannot take. She earns another break point with a delightful forehand crosscourt winner which again she cannot take. On the third deuce Barty serves up another double fault to gift Blinkova her third break point. Again Barty plays a backhand winner to save and take it to another deuce. Blinkova has another break point and it’s deja vu all over again as she cannot capitalises. From there Barty holds. That was a nine-minute game.
Blinkova will now serve to stay in the match.
Barty* 6-4, 4-3 Blinkova (*denotes next server)
Blinkova’s serve is on the blink again as Barty earns a break point. The Russian is under pressure but throws down a good second serve to save the break point. Barty gets another break point thanks to a wonderful lob – brilliant shotmaking. The world No.1 then makes no mistake with a backhand winner on the run to take control of the second set.
Confirmation Svitolina is out
The third seed’s championship is over.
Barty 6-4, 3-3 Blinkova* (*denotes next server)
Better service game from Barty but the errors elsewhere remain – a sliced backhand into the net an uncharacteristic mistake from the Australian. She does just enough to hold to 30 and the second set stays on serve.
From 0-3 down in the first set the Briton has dominated against Alex Bolt and has won in straight sets.
Barty* 6-4, 2-3 Blinkova (*denotes next server)
Much better from Blinkova on her serve – she’s been under pressure most of the match on serve but holds to 15. That’s three games in a row for the Russian.
Barty 6-4, 2-2 Blinkova* (*denotes next server)
Barty is taken to deuce after a fine forehand passing shot from Blinkova. Under pressure the first seed then plants a forehand into the net and her opponent has a break point. Another double fault (her seventh) gifts Blinkova the game. Just when you think Barty is about to go up a gear she falters…
Barty* 6-4, 2-1 Blinkova (*denotes next server)
Barty has had 22 unforced errors so far – a sign that she’s well below her best at the moment. But Blinkova’s serve is even more erratic than some of Barty’s groundstrokes and at deuce is in danger of being broken once again. She wins the next two points, though, and holds.
Barty 6-4, 2-0 Blinkova* (*denotes next server)
Barty is brilliant when on song and she’s showing signs of that the further this match goes on. She moves Blinkova around the court with some powerful groundstrokes before coming into the net for a volleyed winner. That gets her to 40-0. But the errors are lingering and her sixth double fault allows Blinkova to get back into the game at 40-30. A forehand winner, however, gets her the 2-0 second-set lead.
Barty* 6-4, 1-0 Blinkova (*denotes next server)
Barty is dominating the Blinkova serve and has three break points. Blinkova, though, is a battler and gets in back to deuces – the errors are still coming from Barty. The Aussie then earns her fourth break point of the game and this time a drive backhand is backed up with a forehand winner down the line and she’s got the early break in the second set.
Third seed Elina Svitolina is out
Linette beats one of the favourites 6-3, 6-4.
BARTY TAKES THE FIRST SET 6-4
Barty’s well below her best but she’s managed to find the shots when she’s needed them this afternoon. She holds to love and takes the first set.
Barty* 5-4 Blinkova (*denotes next server)
It’s Blinkova now forcing the errors from Barty – the Aussie missing a sliced backhand (one of her weapons) early on. At 4-4 30-30 Blinkova has a great chance to put some scoreboard pressure on the world No.1 but sends a forehand wide. Barty then can’t capitalise on the break point as another backhand hits the net. The Australian earns another break point and this time a blistering forehand does the trick and the first seed will serve for the first set.
Barty 4-4 Blinkova* (*denotes next server)
Barty has already had four double faults (during her first round win she only had three all match). She’s down 0-30 early on in this game BUT a Blinkova error and another forehand winner allow her to reach parity. 30-30 soon becomes deuce and the Russian has a break point thanks to a Barty long forehand. She converts it and both players are looking on edge and unsettled.
Cam is in control
Barty* 4-3 Blinkova (*denotes next server)
Both players are proving to be error-prone at the moment – Barty is showing the better touch and a delicate drop shot gets her to 0-40. She had three break points last Blinkova service game and couldn’t convert any of them. She makes no mistake this time and breaks to love. She’s just starting to settle.
Barty 3-3 Blinkova* (*denotes next server)
Barty is making a few uncharacteristic errors, but she has a fine forehand. It’s a heavy shot that takes opponents out of position and two forehands back-to-back allow her to hold to 30.
Barty* 2-3 Blinkova (*denotes next server)
Barty is hitting some good groundstrokes from the back of the court and waiting for Blinkova to make the error, which she does twice on the way to the Aussie getting three break points. The Russian is under pressure but two wayward forehands gets Blinkova back into the game at 30-40. And Barty then uncharacteristically plants a backhand into the net. The Russian wins five points in a row for a gutsy hold.
Barty 2-2 Blinkova* (*denotes next server)
Barty is starting to look more comfortable after that nervy start. She sends down the first ace of the match to get to 30-15. She follows that up with the second two points later and holds to 30.
Norrie has taken the first set having been 0-3 down
Barty* 1-2 Blinkova (*denotes next server)
Blinkova has strapping on her right hand (the one the holds the racquet) that cannot be good. It’s not obvioulsy affecting her but Barty, thanks to some unforced errors, earn two break points. And another wide forehand from Blinkova allows the Aussie to break straight back.
Barty 0-2 Blinkova* (*denotes next server)
Barty’s golf swing has been praised by Tiger Woods and it’s no shock that her serve is also efficient and effective as well. She mixes her serves and makes her opponent think. She does just that while show a lovely touch – playing a backhand drop shot winner. However, she’s looking a bit nervous and a double fault gifts Blinkova a break point. The Russian had a fine chance to go 2-0 up but fires a forehand on the run into the net. She, however, earns another break point next up and a double fault from Barty gives the Russian the early break.
Barty looked edgy in that game.
Barty* 0-1 Blinkova (*denotes next server)
The Russian serves first and misses her first two first serves – not a great omen. Barty is a fine strokemaker and she hits a wonderful forehand winner to take the second point of the match. The first few games are always about trying to settle into rhythm and Blinkova has done just that holding to 15. She looked at ease there – a solid start.
Barty and Blinkova are out on court
How will US Open semi-finalist Blinkova deal with the world No.1?
French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova into the third round
John McEnroe on Norrie
The BBC commentator (and all-time great) has just said…
The pressure is on Norrie – the seed, the favourite, the Brit. Bolt’s tricky though – I have watched play a number of times – he’s not a guy that’s going to beat himself.
As I type that Norrie has broken back and it’s now 3-2 to Bolt.
Norrie down a break already
Bolt has stormed to a 3-0 first-set lead. Plenty of time to go, though, so no need to panic.
Fourth seed Zverev is through
Cam Norrie is having a great year and…
…he’s just got his match against Australian and fellow lefty Alex Bolt under way on Court One. He’s up to a career high of 34th in the rankings and I’ll keep you posted on how the Brit is doing. The winner of this match could face Roger Federer in the third round…
So let’s talk about the slippery Centre Court surface
It’s dominated much of the talk surrounding these championships so far having claimed the title tilt of Serena Williams and helped Roger Federer through to the second round after his opponent Adrian Mannarino fell and hurt his knee.
So what is going on? It’s apparently more slippery than usual and the number of falls we’re seeing – Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray are just two two big names to fall on the lush turf – must be making players, coaches and fans worry ahead of every point.
Our very own Tom Morgan looked into the slippery shame…
“There has been speculation that Centre Court’s state-of-the-art ventilation system may have been a factor in failing to dry the surface. Over 600 air distributors pump dry air into the space when the roof is closed as part of a roof design led by Populous, which also led the regeneration of Wembley and Tottenham Hotspur’s stadium.”
Who is Anna Blinkova?
The Russian is ranked No. 89 in the world and hasn’t been able to translate her great junior form on the senior circuit. The 22-year -old was runner-up at the 2015 Wimbledon Championships in girls’ singles and was ranked the No. 3 junior tennis player in the world in August 2015. She has a career high ranking of 54 back in February last year.
The talented Ash Barty is the one to beat at SW19
Ash Barty is one of those really annoying people. Not because of her personality, or any grating habits, no, she’s really annoying as she’s one of those people who can turn their hand to any sport and seemingly be very, very, very (I could carry on, but that too would be annoying…) good at it.
During lockdown she got her golf handicap down from 10 to four and became the Brookwater Golf Club women’s champion in the process. Louis Dobbelaar, a two-time Queensland amateur champion, is in no doubt Barty could make it as a professional. “She’s got all the tools if she wants to pursue it. If she put her mind to it, I’m sure she could,” she said. Barty also had a certain Tiger Woods gushing about her swing – I am not jealous, not at all.
Added to that she’s also played for the Brisbane Heat in the women’s Big Bash League – multi-talented doesn’t really do her justice.
Why do I mention this other than to remind myself it doesn’t seem fair that someone can be world-class in three sports? Well, the world No.1 faces Anna Blinkova on Centre Court this afternoon and it’s clear that the Russian will need all the luck she can grab on to.
Barty is the No.1 seed and, in the absence of Simona Halep and Naomi Osaka, favourite to win her second grand slam. Her first round match will have done her title bid no harm at all.
Having been given the “honour” of opening the women’s singles in the absence of reigning champion Halep, Barty came through a nervy start against Carla Suarez Navarro before really finding her stride in the third set. Whether she can carry that momentum over into her second round clash with Blinkova remains to be seen.
But the ultra talented Australian says she’s feeling good and is fully recovered from the hip injury that blighted her Roland Garros title defence.
”I think there was a little bit of nervousness, probably not knowing exactly how my body was going to feel genuinely. I know that I had full trust that we’d done absolutely everything that we could [but] you just never know. To be able to go out there today and play the way that I did was really nice.” Good luck to Blinkova, she may need it.
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