Wimbledon | Swiatek sails on as others try to catch up on Day 3

A total of 87 men’s and women’s first and second-round singles matches were scheduled for Wednesday, as The Championships played catch-up following rain on the first two days that messed with arrangements, and as Iga Swiatek led the charge into the 3rd-round, others, like Maria Sakkari and Karolina Pliskova, failed to make it into round 2 on a busy day that suffered further early rain delays on the outside courts.

I'm happy that I can play such a solid game and kind of do what I was practicing. I feel pretty confident and pretty happy. Which doesn't happen often, honestly. So I'm happy that this is the first year where I finally, kind of, feel like I learned a lot and I can really adjust my game to grass courts a little. Iga Świątek

Swiatek, the World No 1 and top seed, sailed past Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo, 6-2 6-0, in just 70 minutes, one of only two players to reach round 3, alongside Daria Kasatkina.

The 22-year old Pole, who lost just 4 points on her serve and struck 27 winners compared to just 3 from her opponent, has now won her last 9 matches in Grand Slam play this year, and has lost just 6 games so far here.

“I was able to, kind of, do everything, tactically, as I wanted to, as my coach wanted me to do, on first and second round,” Swiatek said after her dazzling display. “I feel confident. I’m going to try to kind of keep it going.”

Although she started a slowly and dropped her serve early, having already broken her opponent, Swiatek smoothly moved through the gears in what was her first career match on Centre Court.

Once she found her range with her lethal forehand, the four-time Grand Slam champion was unstoppable and she cruised to a Tour-leading 40th win of the season.

A clay court specialist with 3 French Open titles to her name, Swiatek has found Wimbledon’s grass tricky in the past, with her longest run coming in 2021 when she reached the 4th round, but she has started her 4th appearance this year in ominous fashion.

“I’m happy that I can play such a solid game and kind of do what I was practicing,” Swiatek said on court. “I feel pretty confident and pretty happy. Which doesn’t happen often, honestly.

“So I’m happy that this is the first year where I finally, kind of, feel like I learned a lot and I can really adjust my game to grass courts a little.”

Swiatek broke Sorribes Tormo’s serve for a 2-0 lead, only to be broken back in the following game, before really stamping her authority on the contest as the sun made an appearance.

Her Spanish opponent played her part in entertaining rallies in the opening set, but Swiatek always had an extra weapon in her armoury, and the second was all over in a flash, adding another bagel to the Pole’s bakery to take her career tally to 36, 16 of which have come this year.

Swiatek was struggling with illness heading into The Championships, but following her two dominant wins, she has silenced her critics, and is fast becoming the favourite for the title.

Also into the 3rd-round is Kasatkina, the Russian 11th seed, who handily defeated Jodie Burrage, the British No 2, 6-0 6-2.

Marta Kostyuk from Ukraine sobbed on court after upsetting Maria Sakkari on Day 3 of Wimbledon

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Tuesday’s rain morphed into Wednesday’s, delaying the start of the 11am matches, and there were two more rain stoppages, so by 3pm there had been more rain delays than completed matches, 3-0.

The rain prevented several players from taking to the court for their 1st-round matches, which had to be pushed back until Thursday, including Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk, the World No 36, who took a big scalp as she recovered from being white-washed in the first set to defeat Sakkari, the 8th seed from Greece, 0-6 7-5 6-2.

Sakkari took the first set 6-0, before Kostyuk narrowly took the second, and completed the turn-around as she won the decider in the 1st-round encounter after an hour 53 minutes on court.

Wimbledon remains the only Grand Slam in which Sakkari has failed to reach the second week as unseeded Kostyuk beat her for the first time in 3 tries, and scored her first career win over a Top 10 player.

The 21-year-old from Ukraine fell to her knees, sobbing tears of joy, after regrouping during the second rain delay in the second set.

“It helped me to calm down even more [than the first delay],” she told reporters. “I had that extra time to put myself together, in a way. I don’t know, honestly, I don’t know how the match would turn out if there was no rain breaks.

“This one means a lot, because it was my 15th attempt to beat Top-10 player. Yeah, I had to do a check on my list. Very happy that that pressure is off my shoulders.”

Kostyuk has become one of the most vocal and articulate critics of the presence of Russian and Belarusian players on the tour in view of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“I feel very bad for all the people who are struggling. They have no choice and they are dying,” she said. “But I have to say that when I have issues on court, or when I’m nervous about myself, thinking about people in Ukraine doesn’t help me.

“Because I can’t live what they live, and it, kind of, like, sometimes helps me. So I’m very grounded. Like I’m very here, on earth. I’m not in the sky.”

Kostyuk will face Paula Badosa in the 2nd-round, after the Spaniard advanced with a 6-3 6-3 win over Alison Riske-Amritraj from the USA.

Anett Kontaveit beat Lucrezia Stefanini to advance to round 2 at her last Wimbledon

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Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit, who has announced that Wimbledon is her last tournament, lived for another day after defeating Italian Lucrezia Stefanini, 6-4 6-4, in her opening round.

The 27-year old has been responding to WTA players trying to convince her not to retire, saying it is ‘sweet’ but noting her decision cannot be changed because of her back condition.

On 20 May Kontaveit stunned the tennis world when she announced Wimbledon would be the final tournament of her career after having been diagnosed with lumbar disc degeneration in her back several months earlier.

After winning her Wimbledon opener, Ons Jabeur said she was trying to convince Kontaveit to change her decision.

“There’s no changing my mind, my back isn’t allowing me,” said Kontaveit, a former World No 2. “It’s really sweet they’re trying. A lot of people tried.

“These decisions, because I cant play without pain pretty much the whole match, it was something I considered for a long time. It was a difficult decision and once I decide something big, I don’t usually start doubting it.”

With Wimbledon being her final tournament, fans were expecting a big send-off for Kontaveit, but were disappointed when, after a rain delay, her first match was moved to an outside court with no seating.

Speaking at her post-match press conference following her 1st-round win, the Estonian said that while she was not expecting to play on Centre Court, she had been hopeful of getting a bigger court.

“I do hope to get a bigger court next time,” Anett Kontaveit said. “I was not expecting to play on Centre Court or a huge court anyway. Yeah, it’s their decision and nothing I can do about it. Yeah, just deal with whatever comes my way and try to do the best I can.”

Her hopes answered, Kontaveit plays Czech Marie Bouzkova, the No 32 seed, on Court 18 on Thursday, hoping to prolong her farewell tournament.

“It definitely is emotional, and yeah, it feels a little different,” she said after her win. “But really excited that I get to play a few more matches here, hopefully, and just do my best every time I walk on the court, and that’s what I have been doing my whole career. Really want to do that for the one last time.”

Addressing her post-tennis plans, Kontaveit said she was currently enrolled in a psychology course and plans to spend some more time on completing her education when she steps away from the tennis court.

“Post-career, I’m studying psychology. I’m going to continue doing that. Then, yeah, we’ll see what the future brings,” she said.

Qualifier Natalija Stevanovic sliced her way past Karolina Pliskova in straight sets

© Michael Regan/Getty Images

Sloane Stephens, Donna Vekic, Danielle Collins and Elisabetta Cocciaretto also all advanced, while, in her first ever Grand Slam main-draw match, 28-year old Serbian qualifier Natalija Stevanovic (née Kostic) delivered an upset of former Wimbledon finalist Karolina Pliskova, 6-2 6-3.

Ranked 225, the Serb scored her first Top 20 win by ousting the Czech No 18 seed.

“We were watching the draw online and Pliskova’s name came up,” Stevanovic said. “My coach [husband Nikola Stevanovic] started saying, ‘Us! Us! Us!’ — and my name popped up!

“There are players you want to play against, because you have a game for them. There are other players who might be lower-ranked, but you don’t have a game for them.

“The plan was to use my slices to make her get down very low, and take my chances on the short balls to attack.”

Stevanovic’s skill with the slice was encapsulated by the way in which she sealed the first set against Pliskova, with a casually struck sliced backhand winner down the line that left the Czech flat-footed.

“I didn’t play like this in juniors,” said Stevanovic, a junior No 5 in 2011. “I used it for the first time when I started to work with my coach eight years ago. I was struggling to get the return inside the court. It was mostly mental, but he said, ‘Let’s try something new. Just chop the ball inside the court to start the point’.

“Since then, every time they were serving to me, I was chopping the slice forehand. Then we saw the slice isn’t just a chop, it can make a big difference in the way players are reacting to it. So we started to work on it and improve it.”

Stevanovic was diagnosed with a life-threatening cyst on her liver when she was 21, which kept her off the tour for a lengthy time..

“I had a big surgery, and half of my stomach is cut,” she said. “It was a long recovery for two years, then finding my feet for another two years. Then Covid struck.

“I would say it’s only part of last year and this year that I’m playing with full power and consistency.”

Meanwhile, another Czech, 9th-seeded Petra Kvitova, got a last-minute call-up to Centre Court and needed 3 sets to defeat Italy’s Jasmine Paolini, 6-4 6-7(5) 6-1, in her opener.

Twice champion Kvitova booked her spot in the 2nd-round after 2 hours and 7 minutes.

The two had met at the last year’s  Championships when Kviotva came out on top in another 3-setter.

“She always makes it very hard for me,” Kvitova said in her on-court interview. “It’s never easy to play the beginning of the tournament, especially here when I’ve been moved to the Centre Court, it’s always a little bit different. But thank you roof, for holding it up for me today.”

Paolini found some momentum and made Kvitova work in the second set, but the experienced left-handed Czech comfortably took the 3rd, firing 8 aces and 36 winners in the match.

“I was trying hard in the second set to break her, but this didn’t happen,” Kvitova said. “In the third I got an opportunity and I made it, and I think that since then I just kept going. I was playing a little bit better, I was serving better as well. That was always the difference, probably.

“I was really happy with my serve, I didn’t lose it today, so that’s very positive,” she added with a smile.

The 33-year old now awaits the winner between Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich and Nuria Parrizas Diaz. from Spain, whose match was suspended due to light, after Sasnovich took the first set 6-2.

16-year old Mirra Andreeva defeated Wang Xiyu on her debut at The Championships, late on Wednesday evening

© Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Elsewhere, on Court 16, Mirra Andreeva’s Wimbledon debut came down to the wire, but the 16-year-old Russian managed to edge China’s Wang Xiyu, 6-4 3-6 7-5, to set an enticing 2nd-round match against Barbora Krejcikova.

Ranked 102 came through qualifying to beat Wang after an enthralling 2 hours and 25 minute battle, which literally came down to the final game when the Chinese served to force a third-set breaker.

She missed her last 4 first serves, though, which allowed Andreeva to produce a finishing run, and, on match point, Wang double-faulted.

In the end, Wang actually won two more points (118-116) than her teenage challenger.

In other Wednesday results, No 10 Krejcikova handled Heather Watson of Great Britain, 6-2 7-5, while No 13 Beatriz Haddad Maia from Brazil came back to defeat Yulia Putintseva from Kazakstan, 3-6 6-0 6-4, and will face Romanian Jaqueline Cristian, a 6-3 6-4 winner over Italian Lucia Bronzetti.

No 17 Jelena Ostapenko from Latvia, the Birmingham champion, beat Belgian qualifier Greet Minnen, 6-1 6-2, and she plays Sorana Cirstea from Romania, a 6-1 2-6 6-3 winner over Germany’s Tatjana Maria.

Ekaterina Alexandrova, the No 21 seed from Russia, was a 6-4 6-3 winner over American Emma Navarro and will meet her compatriot, Madison Brengle.

No 25 Madison Keys, also from the USA, was a comprehensive 6-0 6-3 winner over British wild-card Sonay Kartal, and now holds 36-5 record in the opening round of a Grand Slam, including a 9-0 mark at Wimbledon.

Keys is coming off last week’s title in Eastbourne, and awaits the winner of the match between Anna Karolina Schmiedlova from Slovakia and Swiss Viktorija Golubic.



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