Wimbledon 2023: Swiatek survives scare to set up Svitolina clash

Women’s top seed Iga Swiatek survived a huge scare before reaching the Wimbledon quarter-finals for the first time on Sunday in London.

The Pole was joined by Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina, who also came through an epic fourth-round scrap the same day.

Poland’s Swiatek looked in big trouble against Switzerland’s Olympic champion Belinda Bencic and saved two match points in the second set before clawing out a 6-7(4) 7-6(2) 6-3 victory.

Wildcard Svitolina was then roared to a 2-6 6-4 7-6(9) win against Belarusian Victoria Azarenka on Court One, recovering from 7-4 down in the champions tie-break, sealing it with an ace.

In the men’s draw, Andrey Rublev reached his eighth Grand Slam quarter-final after surviving a fightback by enigmatic Kazakh Alexander Bublik to win in five sets.

Jannik Sinner made the last eight for the second year in succession as he overcame Colombia’s Daniel Galan.

Defending champion Novak Djokovic was in action later on Centre Court against Hubert Hurkacz, who ended eight-time champion Roger Federer’s Wimbledon career in 2021.

Swiatek lived to fight another day, but it was a mighty close shave for the 22-year-old who has never mastered grass despite becoming the dominant force in women’s tennis.

Bencic, the 14th seed, proved a frustrating obstacle for Swiatek, with the four-time Grand Slam champion struggling to master her opponent for the majority of an intriguing tussle.

As the evening gloom set in, Swiatek eventually got a handle on her opponent’s game, moving clear in the final set before wrapping up victory after more than three hours.

Bencic will look back at the two match points she had at 5-6 in the second set, the first saved with a powerful Swiatek forehand and the second with a backhand winner.

Next up for Swiatek will be former semi-finalist Svitolina, who has enjoyed a remarkable comeback from becoming a mother last year, reaching the quarter-finals of the French Open.

Svitolina had never beaten fellow mom Azarenka before but showed great resilience to recover from a bad start and eventually get over the finishing line.

She collapsed on her back after sealing victory, and there was no handshake.

Svitolina was sticking to her stance of not shaking hands with players from either Belarus or Russia because of the invasion of her country last year.

Bizarrely, the crowd booed Azarenka as she left the court.

American fourth seed Jessica Pegula reached the Wimbledon quarter-finals for the first time as she thrashed another Ukrainian, Lesia Tsurenko, 6-1 6-3.

She is only the fifth American woman in the last 25 years to reach the last eight at all four majors.

Pegula will face former French Open runner-up Marketa Vondrousova after she beat Marie Bouzkova 2-6 6-4 6-3.

Seventh seed Rublev was on course for a straight sets win over Bublik but ended up being reeled in by the unpredictable Kazakh, who produced his usual mix of weird and wonderful tennis strokes.

Eventually, thanks to one of the shots of the tournament to earn a match-point, Rublev won 7-5 6-3 6-7(6) 6-7(5) 6-4.

Sinner’s 7-6(4) 6-4 6-3 victory earned him what looks like a great opportunity to reach his first Grand Slam semi-final.

That is a clash with unseeded Russian Roman Safiullin, who beat injured Canadian Denis Shapovalov 3-6 6-3 6-1 6-3.


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