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Djokovic into 50th Slam last-eight, Kerber brushes aside Gauff

Ons Jabeur led a host of first timers to reach the last-eight landmark on ‘Manic Monday’.

Novak Djokovic celebrates his win.
Novak Djokovic celebrates his win.
Image: Kirsty Wigglesworth

Updated Jul 5th 2021, 6:05 PM

NOVAK DJOKOVIC MARCHED effortlessly into his 50th Grand Slam quarter-final as Ons Jabeur became the first Tunisian player to make the last-eight at the All England Club, leading a host of first timers to reach the landmark on ‘Manic Monday’.

World number one Djokovic, chasing a sixth Wimbledon and record-equalling 20th major, eased into the last-eight at the tournament for the 12th time with a 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 win over Chile’s Cristian Garin.

He will next face Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics, one of a host of players booking last-eight spots at the tournament for the first time.

The list included women’s top seed Ashleigh Barty, second seed Aryna Sabalenka, Karolina Pliskova, Viktorija Golubic as well as Matteo Berrettini, Denis Shapovalov and Karen Khachanov in the men’s draw.

Djokovic is halfway to a calendar Grand Slam.

Only two men have swept all four majors in the same year with Rod Laver the most recent back in 1969.

“Confidence levels are very high after winning the French Open,” said Djokovic.

“It was one of my biggest wins in the circumstances — two five-setters, two four-setters in the second week. They took a lot out of me but they also gave me wings.”

Barty reached the quarter-finals for the first time, beating French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic 7-5, 6-3.

The 25-year-old Australian will play the winner of the match between unseeded compatriot Ajla Tomljanovic and British teenager Emma Raducanu for a place in the semi-finals.

“It was an incredibly tough match,” said Barty.

“Barbora has had an unbelievable year and am happy to come through in the end. I found some good stuff when it was important.”

Jabeur’s historic campaign saw her reach the quarter-finals for the first time, beating Poland’s 2020 French Open champion Iga Swiatek 5-7, 6-1, 6-1.

The 26-year-old is the first Tunisian woman to reach the last eight and will face Belarus second seed Aryna Sabalenka who defeated Elena Rybakina 6-3, 4-6, 6-3

“It was a great match and I had to stay calm rather than get angry when I failed to close out the first set as getting angry would not have helped my cause,” said Jabeur.

Both Jabeur and Sabalenka have a season-leading 33 wins in 2021.

Former world number one Pliskova reached her first Wimbledon quarter-final with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Russian wildcard Liudmila Samsonova.

Later Monday, eight-time champion Roger Federer, who takes on Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego, can become the oldest quarter-finalist at Wimbledon in the Open era.

Federer, just five weeks shy of his 40th birthday, is in the Wimbledon last 16 for the 18th time. In all, it will be his 69th appearance in the fourth round of a Slam.

Men’s seventh seed Berrettini became only the fifth Italian man to make the last eight with a quickfire 6-4, 6-3, 6-1 win over Ilya Ivashka of Belarus.

The Queen’s Club champion, the first Italian man in the quarter-finals since 1998, will face either Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada or German fourth seed Alexander Zverev for a semi-final spot.

Second seed Daniil Medvedev, who staged a comeback from two sets down for the first time in his career to beat 2017 runner-up Marin Cilic, faces Hubert Hurkacz, the Polish 14th seed.

Khachanov also reached a maiden quarter-final with a five-set win over Sebastian Korda who was celebrating his 21st birthday.

Russian 25th seed Khachanov triumphed over his American rival 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, 5-7, 10-8 and will face Canadian 10th seed Denis Shapovalov.

A marathon 81-minute final set on Court 18 featured 13 breaks of serve before Khachanov steadied himself to take the victory.

Shapovalov, who knocked out two-time champion Andy Murray in the last round, dismissed Spain’s 2019 semi-finalist and eighth seed Roberto Bautista Agut 6-1, 6-3, 7-5.

The only British player left in the singles draw is 18-year-old Raducanu who has defied her ranking of 338 to make the second week where she meets Tomljanovic.

wimbledon-2021-day-seven-the-all-england-lawn-tennis-and-croquet-club Emma Raducanu's name is added to the order of play listing. Source: PA

Raducanu has only just completed her final school exams and has attracted a host of new fans, including rock star Liam Gallagher, the former frontman of Oasis.

“BIBLICAL,” Gallagher tweeted in response to Raducanu’s third round win over Sorana Cirstea.

Meanwhile Angelique Kerber, the 2018 Wimbledon champion, produced a superb display to beat American teenager Coco Gauff 6-4, 6-4 in 1 hour and 16 minutes to reach the quarter-finals.

The 33-year-old German former world number one fell out of love with the game for a spell but is back in the form she showed in 2018.

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Kerber, the only Wimbledon women’s champion remaining in the draw, will play Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic for a place in the semi-finals.

For Gauff, 17, it was defeat at the same stage she exited two years ago when she won the hearts and minds of the Wimbledon crowd aged just 15.

The first set was a dizzying series of each player breaking the other’s serve but Kerber held when it most mattered to take the set.

Kerber broke Gauff to go 2-1 up in the second set and the crowd tried to rally the 17-year-old with cries of ‘Go Coco’ as she rose from her chair to rejoin battle.

Gauff did have an opportunity to get back into the set and the match when she held two break points at 3-4.

However, Kerber served an ace to save the first one and Gauff played a careless drop shop into the net from the baseline to allow Kerber back to deuce.

Gauff sent a forehand into the net to give Kerber advantage and the German held.

Though Gauff held her next service game the fight had gone out of her and the German still had time for one more delicious whipped forehand crosscourt winner to delight the crowd.

Kerber applauded Gauff off Centre Court before eulogising about her.

“Coco is such a talented player and she has a great future,” said Kerber. “I am really sure she will have a great career and she can win the title here too at some point.”

Kerber is way too experienced and canny a player to fall into the trap of projecting herself as on course for a second title.

“I really enjoy my time here and it gives me energy to play in front of the Wimbledon crowd and I play my best tennis,” she said.

“I am really looking forward to my next match. I will try and play the tournament match by match I just want to stay in the moment.”

© – AFP, 2021

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