Wimbledon 2022: Jabeur and Badosa are only top-10 women to reach Round 4

Cornet ends No1 Swiatek’s 37-match run; Pegula and Kvitova also beaten

Petra Kvitova
Petra Kvitova (Photo: AELTC/Simon Bruty)

It had not been a great week for the seeds in the women’s singles draw this week, nor for former Wimbledon champions.

Garbine Muguruza lost in the first round, and Angelique Kerber in the third. US Open champion Emma Raducanu fell at the second hurdle and last year’s French Open champion, Barbora Krejcikova also failed to make the second week.

Even the seven-time Wimbledon champion Serena Williams, making her first return to competitive tennis in a year, fell to the little known Harmony Tan.

Last year’s runner-up and former world No1, Karolina Pliskova, fell to Briton Katie Boulter, while the No2 seed Anett Kontaveit continued her less-than-glittering Wimbledon results with a second-round loss.

By the time the seeds were due to converge in the third round, half of them had gone, and by the time the bottom half of the draw shook down to the second week, there were just three from eight seeds left. The world No2 Ons Jabeur led the way—and would face one of the other seeds, Elise Mertens—while former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, a junior Wimbledon champion, had roared her way to the fourth round, too.

How many of the remaining nine seeds, then, would make it to week two from the top half?

In fairness, there were some formidable names among them. The world No1 Iga Swiatek, on a 37-match winning streak that had included the French Open, topped the pile, and had reached the fourth round here in her last appearance.

Then there was two-time champion Petra Kvitova, though she faced the formidable figure of No4 seed Paula Badosa—a woman who could match her own power from the baseline, and more. But Kvitova had asserted her grass form ahead of The Championships with a run to the Eastbourne title.

There was also the 2019 champion Simona Halep, perhaps here to make a point about defending her title after being unable to return last year because of injury. That had not been enough to earn her the opening of Centre Court on Day 2, as is the tradition for the women’s defending champion—and last year’s winner, Ash Barty, had retired: There was a vacancy for Halep to take her turn.

The intelligent and gifted teenager and the No11 seed, Coco Gauff, had already made the fourth round at Wimbledon twice, the first time in 2019 aged 15. And only last month, she was runner-up at her first Major at Roland Garros.

Such is the star power of the young American that she had played two of her three matches on Centre Court, and this time, it would be against another seed, No20 Amanda Anisimova. For many, Gauff was a Wimbledon champion in waiting—but she would have to wait. The 20-year-old Anisimova came from a set down to beat Gauff, 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-1, and reach the fourth round for the first time after more than two hours.

Anisimova would next have to try her luck against the giant-killer Tan, who had beaten not just Williams but the No32 seed Sara Sorribes Tormo. And she used the same tricky, grass-perfect tactics of slice, angle, and all-round touch to deny Katie Boulter the fourth round.

Also in this quarter were those two remaining Wimbledon champions. Kvitova had played 46 matches at the All England Club, more than anyone remaining in the draw, and she got off to a flier against Badosa with a quick break, but as the set went on, the errors flew, and Badosa edged her way back to take the set, 7-5, and ran out the winner after more than two hours, 7-6(4).

One champion down, but would No16 seed Halep fare better? The answer was as swift as it was impressive, just 67 minutes for a 6-4, 6-1 win over Magdalena Frech. The Romanian, then, advances to a meeting with Badosa without dropping a set.

In the top quarter, the unseeded Ajla Tomljanovic was last year beaten by eventual champion Barty in the quarter-finals here. And she progressed to the fourth round this time with a 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 win over Krejcikova.

Tomljanovic was scheduled next to play the world No1 Swiatek again, but Alize Cornet had other ideas. The French woman, ranked just outside the seedings, was playing her 62nd straight Major main draw, equalling the women’s record. And she had history when it came to beating No1s at Wimbledon. Back in 2014 here, she beat Williams in the third round—and she would do the same to Swiatek.

It had been four months since Swiatek last lost a match, and it took a fine performance form the 32-year-old Cornet to take her into the fourth round at Wimbledon for the first time since 2014.

A beaming Cornet said:

“It’s big pride for me to win this match against Iga. I mean, what she’s done this year is out of this world, and I can’t believe I’m the one that actually broke the streak. This is amazing. I’m very happy to be in the second week again for the second time.”

It was proving to be something of a resurgent season for Cornet, too. At the start of 2022, she reached her very first Major quarter-final at the Australian Open.

For Swiatek, though, it is surely time to step back and rest. It has been a huge season for her, rising to No1 in March, and winning Doha, Indian Wells, Miami, Stuttgart, Rome, and Roland-Garros—a 44-3 season.

At just 21, she has plenty of time to build a great legacy and chase more records. She is smart, articulate, charming, and plays the kind of all-court tennis that fans like to watch. She will be back soon, but realises that grass is going to take longer to master.

“For sure I didn’t have as much belief as on other surfaces. Maybe this is also the reason. Maybe this is something I should change next year. But I would say coming into the grass season, I had belief that this year is going to be different because maybe I did so much work overall that maybe it’s also going to have some impact here.

“I got disappointed a little bit, so I don’t know if I should even have hope. Maybe it’s just easier to take it easy and see what grass is going to bring me.”

It is worth comparing that with the confidence that emanated from Halep in her press conference:

“Well, I’ve been struggling with the confidence lately. But it’s normal after last year when I was injured and I didn’t win much. But, again, with the work that I have done I feel better. I feel that physically I am strong, I’m where I have to be. I’m not worried about injuries anymore. Tennis will come. If I keep doing every day what I have to do, I’m really confident that it’s going to come at the highest level.”

Halep began in perhaps the toughest quarter of the draw, and despite all the losses by seeds and champions, she remains in the toughest quarter, with Badosa next, then Anisimova: four players, three seeds.

As for what was Swiatek’s quarter, top of this half, there is just one seed: Elena Rybakina, No17, who edged Chinese teenager Zheng Qinwen, 7-6(4), 7-5, in an hour and 50 minutes. She will play No80 Petra Martic, who beat No8 seed Jessica Pegula, 6-2, 7-6(5). The win was Martic’s second over a seeded player this week, having also beaten No30 seed Shelby Rogers.

And so, out of the final 16 women at this year’s Wimbledon, there remain only seven seeds, and just two in the top 10: Jabeur in one half, Badosa in the other. Will they meet in the final? Nothing this year is certain.

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