The Malta Independent 24 September 2021, Friday

Back at Centre Court, Coco Gauff impresses Dad with poise

Associated Press Friday, 2 July 2021, 07:42 Last update: about 4 months ago

Top-ranked Ash Barty advanced to the third round of a Wimbledon women’s draw depleted of other top contenders by beating Anna Blinkova 6-4, 6-3 Thursday.

No. 3-seeded Elina Svitolina became the latest upset victim, and eight of the top 11 players in the WTA rankings are out of the tournament due to defeat, withdrawal or injury.

Barty avoided an exit by overcoming an uncharacteristically unreliable serve. She committed nine double-faults, including three in the first game, and was broken three times. But she also hit 33 winners to 12 for Blinkova.

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“Not my best serving day,” Barty said. “I was just out of rhythm a little bit. Some days you feel like you’re 8-feet tall and you can't miss the box. Other days, like today, you feel like you’re 3-foot-nothing. It's certainly nothing that will concern me over a longer period.”

Barty, the 2019 French Open champion, needs two more wins to become a Wimbledon quarterfinalist for the first time.

Svitolina lost to Magda Linette, who earned the biggest victory of her career, 6-3, 6-4. The Polish player, ranked 44th, had never before beaten a top-15 opponent in a completed match.

Linette had 28 winners to just eight for Svitolina, a semifinalist at Wimbledon two years ago.

Svitolina said such upsets reflect the state of the women's game.

“Anyone can win any tournament — you know, a lot of good players, doesn’t matter on the ranking, they can challenge you with amazing performance," she said. "First, second round, there are all the time tough matches."

Coco Gauff was back on Centre Court after Barty and beat an opponent twice her age to reach the third round.

The 17-year-old American defeated 34-year-old Russian veteran Elena Vesnina 6-4, 6-3 to keep her on track for making another run into the second week at the All England Club.

Gauff became an instant sensation when she reached the fourth round two years ago at the age of 15 — saving two match points before beating Polona Hercog on Centre Court in the third round. She has since won two WTA titles and made the quarterfinals at this year’s French Open.

Gauff had a slight wobble at 3-0 in the second set when she missed an easy forehand to be broken for the first time at this year’s tournament. But she broke again to clinch the win when Vesnina double-faulted on match point.

French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova extended her winning streak to 14 matches by beating Andrea Petkovic 7-5, 6-4. Krejcikova seeks to become the first woman since Serena Williams in 2015 to win Roland Garros and Wimbledon back to back.

A former Wimbledon doubles champion, Krejcikova is making her tournament debut in the singles draw.

In men's play, second-seeded Daniil Medvedev saw off promising Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 to match his best result at Wimbledon by making the third round. Fourth-seeded Alexander Zverev hit 13 aces, lost only 12 points on his serve and beat Tennys Sandgren 7-5, 6-2, 6-3. Zverev was the U.S. Open runner-up in 2020 and a semifinalist at last month's French Open, but he has never been past the round of 16 at Wimbledon.

Britain advanced three men to the third round for the first time in 22 years. Cameron Norrie received a standing ovation on Court 1 when he won to join Andy Murray and Dan Evans in the round of 32 by sweeping wild card Alex Bolt 6-3, 6-1, 6-2.

No. 7 Matteo Berrettini beat Botic van de Zandschulp 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (4). No. 13 Gael Monfils lost to Pedro Martinez 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (5).

American Shelby Rogers matched her best Wimbledon result by reaching the third round when she beat No. 15 Maria Sakkari 7-5, 6-4.

No. 16 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova swept past Kristyna Pliskova 6-3, 6-3. No. 19 Karolina Muchova and No. 30 Paula Badosa also advanced.

The sun came out on Day 4 of the tournament, and Roger Federer was scheduled to play Richard Gasquet in the last match on Centre Court. Federer has won their past 10 meetings.

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