The weather finally relented to allow for a full day of play at the Wimbledon Championships on Wednesday but with mixed fortunes for some, with Iga Swiatek, Garbiñe Muguruza, and Sloane Stephens advancing into the 3rd round, but Sofia Kenin, Bianca Andreescu and Venus Williams were among those to fall.
Of course I want to come back, who wouldn’t? When it’s my last Wimbledon, I’ll let you know. I’ll give you a little whisper in your ear. Venus Williams
Swiatek and Muguruza scored impressive straight set wins as they edge closer to a possible clash in the round of 16.
No 7 seed Swiatek of Poland was the first to advance by dismissing 2010 Wimbledon runner-up Vera Zvonareva of Russia, 6-1 6-3, in a little over an hour on No 2 Court.
“Every match gives me an opportunity to have more and more confidence,” Swiatek said, in her post-match press conference. “So I’m pretty happy with my performance today.
“Playing such an experienced player is never easy. I didn’t know what to expect at the beginning, because she has many years of playing on grass and I have only two, basically.
“So I wanted to be aggressive from the beginning and just play really powerful. And I did that, so I’m pretty happy.”
Swiatek converted 5 of her 11 break points in the clash, collecting 8 of Zvonareva’s 10 second-service points to be the dominant force on return.
Muguruza, the 2017 Wimbledon champion from Spain and 11th seed, eased past Dutch qualifier Lesley Pattinama Kerkhove, 6-1 6-4, on No 3 Court.
The former World No 1 needed just 68 minutes to claim her win over Pattinama Kerkhove and move into the 3rd round for the 3rd time.
Muguruza has gone on to the final twice, with a 2015 runner-up performance preceding her 2017 Wimbledon crown.
Pattinama Kerkhove, ranked 174, saved 2 match points during her run through qualifying, then defeated another former Grand Slam champion, Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova, to earn her first main-draw win at a major.
It took a sterling performance by Muguruza to stop the Dutchwoman, and she fired 22 winners, more than double that of her opponent, and won 81 percent of points behind her first service to do so.
After a dominant opening frame, Muguruza was pushed much harder by Pattinama Kerkhove in the second, going up 4-2 before the Spaniard struck back using a deep backhand to convert a break point and then run off 4 straight games to romp through the rest of the match.
Good friends and former Top 10 players Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys also booked spots in the third round at Wimbledon.
2017 US Open champion Stephens defeated her fellow American, lucky loser Kristie Ahn, 7-5 6-3, on No 3 Court just before sunset.
Stephens converted 6 of her 12 break points to grind through 2 tough sets, breaking Ahn’s serve in 2 of the last 3 games to set up a 3rd-round encounter with powerful wild-card Liudmila Samsonova, the recent Berlin champion.
No 23 seed Keys came out the winner an all-American second-round encounter, defeating Lauren Davis, 6-1 6-4, in just over an hour.
Keys, a Wimbledon quarter-finalist in 2015, struck 22 winners, exactly doubled the Davis winner count, as the former World No 7 set up an intriguing match with No 13 seed Elise Mertens from Belgium.
Elsewhere, there were upsets as No 4 seed Sofia Kenin, 5th seed Andreescu and No 9 seed Belinda Bencic were all eliminated.
Kenin’s miserable 2021 continued as the former Australian Open champion was upset by American Madison Brengle 6-2 6-4; Andreescu was ousted for a second time this grass season by Alizé Cornet, who pulled the upset 6-2 6-1; while Bencic was shocked by Slovenia’s Kaja Juvan 6-3 6-3.
The 2020 Australian Open champion never got going on a cool Court 2 and lasted only 45 minutes against the experienced 31-year-old American, who has matched her best run here.
“I really did not feel my game,” said Kenin who pulled out of the Eastbourne tournament last week with a minor injury. “I just feel, like, leading up to Wimbledon, I didn’t have enough clearly preparation on the grass.”
Second seed Arya Sabalenka avoided the upset bug by hanging on to beat Britain’s Katie Boulter, 4-6 6-3 6-3 in just over 2 hours on Centre Court.
The Belarusian had a mighty struggle with the 219th-ranked Brit but survived to reach her first Wimbledon 3rd round.
“It was a really tough match today, she’s an unbelievable player and it was a really, really tough match,” she told the crowd. “I don’t know how – maybe because of you guys, I didn’t want you to be more happy than you were in my match, so I really wanted to win this match.”
Karolina Pliskova, Victoria Azarenka and Karolina Muchova were all winners too on Wednesday, but 5-time winner Venus Williams could not maintain her run and although the 41-year-old put up a good fight but faded in a 7-5 6-0 loss to Ons Jabeur, the No 21 seed from Tunisia.
“Of course I want to come back, who wouldn’t?” said Venus who is still in the mixed doubles with Nick Kyrgios. “When it’s my last Wimbledon, I’ll let you know. I’ll give you a little whisper in your ear.”
The American, who first appeared at SW19 in 1997 and won her first title way back in 2000, was again pressed on whether she would be back next year.
“Of course, it’s incredible any time you get to play here,” she said. “It just never gets old. Yeah, definitely not my best day. Maybe a few too many errors. But I think a lot of it was how she played.”
Jabeur says ‘being the only Arab [woman]’ on the tennis tour ‘is not easy’ but she hopes one day there will be a whole group of them, like the Americans and French.
The 26-year-old Tunisian became the first Arab woman to win a WTA tournament title in Birmingham earlier this month.
“Being the only Arab is not easy to be on tour right now,” she said. “Hopefully, you never know. Maybe now someone is watching and wants to be here in my place.”
Williams said before the match that Jabeur would achieve her goal: “You’re gonna see a whole other generation of women from North Africa coming into tennis,” said Jabeur, who plays Muguruza next.
Latvian big-hitter Jelena Ostapenko, who won the French Open in 2017 and reached the Wimbledon semi-final a year later, underlined her return to form with an easy 6-1 6-2 win over Canadian teenager Leylah Fernandez in a delayed first round.
American Coco Vandeweghe won her first-round match at Wimbledon less than a year after severing two ligaments and a nerve in her left hand after using a container that wasn’t microwavable when she heated up a bowl of soup.
“It exploded in my hand,” Vandeweghe said, then held up her hands on a video conference at the All England Club to show how her left fingers don’t quite line up straight after surgery in August 2020.
“You can see it’s a little crooked.”
The 2-time Grand Slam semi-finalist beat qualifier Olga Govortsova of Belarus, 6-4 6-2., in what was her first win at any major tournament since the 2018 French Open after which she was diagnosed with a rare chronic pain condition in her right foot later that year.
“Kind of conquering demons here at Wimbledon,” she said. “That was kind of the start and the catalyst of my injury life. I definitely had a big smile on my face after today’s win.”
The foot injury meant Vandeweghe wasn’t sure if she would even walk normally again and made her question whether she wanted to continue playing tennis.
Once a member of the Top 10, Vandeweghe is now No.163 in the WTA and used a protected ranking to get into Wimbledon’s main draw.
Finally free of her injury woes, the former World No 9 has a new perspective as she continues to plot her comeback and is enjoying a fruitful grass season.
Over on Court No 5, the match between Greece’s Maria Sakkari and American Shelby Rogers was suspended due to low light.
After Rogers resumed from her bathroom break, both players were asked if they wanted to suspend the match and it will resume on Thursday with Rogers leading 7-5.