Maria Sharapova downed China’s Peng Shuai 6-4, 6-2 in the Wimbledon fourth round yesterday to reach the quarter-finals for the first time since 2006.
The first set was a closely fought affair with little between the Russian fifth seed and the Chinese No. 2, but the 2004 Wimbledon champion was able to impose herself much more in the second set against the 20th seed.
“It’s great,” Sharapova said after wrapping up victory in 1 hour, 21 minutes. “I’m giving myself an opportunity to go even further, so I’m quite happy about that. I have to be realistic about the fact that I hadn’t gotten past the fourth round in a few years, so this a step forward and it’s just about taking care of business in the next round.”
She will face either Danish world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki or Slovakia’s 24th seed Dominika Cibulkova today for a place in the semi-finals.
Defending champion Serena Williams didn’t have such a good day, though, losing 6-3, 7-6 (8/6) to Marion Bartoli.
The American, seeded seventh after serious health problems, struggled throughout against the ninth-seeded Frenchwoman, who took the first set on her sixth set point.
Williams, the 13-time Grand Slam champion, made a succession of unforced errors, roaring in anguish after one poor shot, but she showed all her battling qualities to save five match points in the second set and force a tiebreak.
Bartoli continued to serve strongly and she earned another two match points in the tiebreak, the second of which she converted.
Sharapova was being cheered on by her fiance Sasha Vujacic, the Slovenian basketball player with the New Jersey Nets.
The first two games went to deuce and took nearly quarter of an hour to complete, with both players firing hard-hitting, flat shots.
Sharapova’s game started to come together in the fourth game, which she won with a lob, but Peng hung in with some stylish defensive tennis and stayed with the former world No. 1 at 4-4.
The Russian had three break points and though Peng pulled it back to 30-40, she could not stop Sharapova going into the net to finish the game off.
The fifth seed then took the set, winning the next game to love and sealing it with an ace.
In the second set, Sharapova was too good and broke twice, racing into a 4-0 lead, before pressing on to close out the victory.
The match was played in scorching conditions on Court Two, a marked change from the rain-interrupted first week.
“It’s like playing a completely different tournament, you see everyone putting sunscreen on, I even had the icepack out,” Sharapova said. “I’m used to it, I grew up in Florida.”
The first woman to move into the quarters was fourth-seeded Victoria Azarenka, who beat Nadia Petrova 6-2, 6-2. German wild-card Sabine Lisicki reached the quarters for the second time, downing Petra Cetkovska 7-6 (7/3), 6-1, while No. 8 seed Petra Kvitova, a semi-finalist last year, needed just 45 minutes to defeat No. 19 Yanina Wickmayer 6-0, 6-2.
Tamira Paszek, an 80th-ranked Austrian, beat another 20-year-old player — Ksenia Pervak of Russia — 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 to secure her first Grand Slam quarter-final berth.
In the men’s draw, Britain’s Andy Murray received the royal seal of approval as he overran Richard Gasquet 7-6 (7/3), 6-3, 6-2.
The fourth seed, watched from the Centre Court royal box by Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, expertly dealt with the considerable threat of the Frenchman.
Murray clinically took his chances in the warm sunshine, while 17th seed Gasquet, who took the Scot to five sets at the grass-court Grand Slam in 2008, squandered the few opportunities he had.
One of unseeded duo Lukasz Kubot or Feliciano Lopez await in the last eight.
Earlier, Australian qualifier Bernard Tomic extended his fairytale run at Wimbledon into the quarters after crushing Belgium’s Xavier Malisse 6-1, 7-5, 6-4.
Tomic is the first qualifier to reach the last eight at Wimbledon since Vladimir Voltchkov in 2000 and the teenager will play second seeded Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic or France’s Michael Llodra for a place in the semi-finals.
Tomic has long been earmarked as one of the sport’s rising stars after winning the Australian and US Open junior titles, but he nearly did not make it to Wimbledon after coming within five points of losing his first match in the qualifying event. This was a far more emphatic victory.
Malisse, 30, reached the semis at the All England Club in 2002, but it was Tomic who made a red-hot start on a sun-baked Court 18.
In sweltering temperatures, Tomic broke Malisse twice as he raced into a 5-0 lead.
Malisse finally got on the scoreboard in the sixth game, but Tomic responded by finishing off the first set after just 21 minutes.
Tomic found it harder to dominate the second set as Malisse finally found some rhythm, but the Australian kept the pressure on, landed the decisive break at 5-5 and then holding serve to open up a two-set advantage.
Tomic was playing with too much imagination and power for Malisse to hold out. He produced a sublime forehand winner on the run to break for a 5-4 lead in the third set, before serving out the match and he celebrated by exchanging high-fives with Australian fans.
‘CRIMINAL ACT’: The UCI said it ‘strongly condemns’ Dylan Groenewegen’s ‘dangerous behavior,’ which left Jakobsen in critical condition and injured other cyclists Dutch cyclist Fabio Jakobsen was in a coma on Wednesday, in “serious” condition, after he was thrown into and over a barrier at 80kph in the conclusion to the opening stage of the Tour de Pologne. Footage showed 23-year-old Jakobsen, of the Deceuninck-Quick-Step, racing elbow-to-elbow with fellow Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen of Jumbo-Visma as both men frantically tussled in a tight sprint to the line in Katowice. However, Jakobsen came off worst, somersaulting over the barriers before colliding with a photographer after Groenewegen had veered suddenly to the right, squeezing his rival into the security wall. “His condition is very serious. His life is
Taiwan Steel on Sunday grabbed three points with a narrow 1-0 win against Hang Yuan FC, to move into the No. 2 spot on the Taiwan Football Premier League (TFPL) log, while Taipower FC beat NTUS 2-0 to maintain first place. Taking advantage early in the match of opposition defenders who had not yet settled down, Taiwan Steel’s attacking trio of Wu Chun-ching, Marc Fenelus from the Turks and Caicos Islands, and Benchy Astama from Haiti pushed forward with good passes. After only one minute of play, Fenelus dribbled from the right flank, feeding a short pass inside the penalty area to
LEAVING IT LATE: Rakuten added late runs last night to add to wins on Wednesday against the Brothers and the Lions on Friday that went down to the last batter The Rakuten Monkeys rallied to post three late runs for another close win, prevailing 5-3 over the Uni-President Lions yesterday as Taiwan’s second-half CPBL season got started with lower scoring output, but exciting finishes. It was Rakuten’s third win in a row. In two games this week, they seized victory in dramatic fashion with their last at-bat and have drawn level with the CTBC Brothers on top of the table after yesterday’s results, 0.5 games in front of the Fubon Guardians and 1.5 games ahead of the Lions. It was tied at 1-1 early, with Rakuten hosting the Lions at the Taoyuan Intenational
STAYING COOL: Hamilton said that his ‘heart nearly stopped’ when he noticed the puncture, but he kept going to beat Alain Prost’s total of six home wins in France Lewis Hamilton said he feared he might not make it home when a last lap puncture almost derailed his charge to a record seventh British Grand Prix victory on Sunday. “I didn’t think I would make it round the last two corners,” the world champion said. The front left tire of his Mercedes had delaminated and deflated on his final lap, leaving the six-time world champion to nurse his vehicle to the finish as second-placed Max Verstappen hunted him down. “I just can’t believe it,” Hamilton said. “It was heart-stopping. I backed off and stayed chilled and was so glad it happened on