London, Jul 11 (EFE).- Polish world No. 1 Iga Swiatek was bounced out of Wimbledon in Tuesday quarterfinal action by Ukrainian wildcard Elina Svitolina, who shook off a narrow second-set loss to prevail 7-5, 6-7 (5-7), 6-2.
But seven-time champion Novak Djokovic kept alive his remarkable winning streak at the All England Club to book a much-anticipated semifinal showdown against fast-rising, eighth-seeded Italian Jannik Sinner.
The 22-year-old Swiatek had the edge in power against Svitolina and used her heavy hitting to jump out to an early lead in the opening set.
Svitolina was then two points away from dropping the first set when the Polish superstar retrieved a drop shot and fired a backhand crosscourt winner just inside the corner of the baseline.
But the Ukrainian escaped a 3-5, 0-30 hole with some aggressive play of her own, including a flat down-the-line forehand that sealed that game.
Swiatek then not only failed to serve out the first set but also dropped her serve a second consecutive time to lose the opener when she missed a backhand volley wide.
The world No. 1 also snagged an early lead in the second set by breaking serve in the third game, only for Svitolina to rally once again and put herself on the verge of victory.
However, with the Ukrainian leading 4-1 in the tiebreaker, Swiatek suddenly found the range on her potent ground strokes to win six of seven points – mostly with winners near the lines – to even the contest.
Everything changed in the decider though, with Svitolina remaining rock-solid from the baseline while Swiatek hit herself out of the tournament with unforced errors.
The world No. 1 committed 12 in that set alone.
For the match, the Polish star struck 37 winners to Svitolina’s 25, but also had a much higher unforced error count (42 to 25).
The 28-year-old Svitolina, a former world No. 3 who a year ago was preparing to give birth to her baby daughter, has made a remarkable comeback to the professional circuit and managed to block the wartime trials of her homeland out of her mind while on court.
Afterward, she had words of praise for Swiatek.
“Iga is not only a great champion, she’s also an unbelievable person. She was one of the first ones that really helped Ukrainian people,” Svitolina said, referring to the Polish player’s charitable efforts on behalf of the neighboring country.
Next up for Svitolina in Thursday’s semifinals will be unseeded Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic, who used her variety of shot to eke out a 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 victory over fourth-seeded American Jessica Pegula.
In men’s quarterfinal action on Tuesday, Djokovic rallied from an early deficit to defeat seventh-seeded Russian Andrey Rublev 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 and win his 33rd consecutive match at the All England Club.
The Serbian great had struggled to impose his return game against the big serve of Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz in the fourth round and was zero for three on break points in the first set on Tuesday.
But he kicked that part of his game into gear at the start of the second set to turn the match around.
Djokovic broke serve twice in the second set, once in the third set and two more times in the fourth set to cruise to the finish line.
The Serbian faced one stressful stretch in the final game of the third set, but he saved three break points before finally converting his fifth set point to take a two-set-to-one lead.
Asked afterward how he is repeatedly able to come up with the answers time and again despite being the most hunted man at every major tournament, the winner of a record 23 Grand Slam men’s singles titles says he relishes the challenge.
“I love (the pressure). It’s true. I think any tennis player wants to be in the position where everyone wants to win against you,” the 36-year-old said.
“I know that they want to get a scalp. They want to win. But it ain’t happening still!”
On Friday, the Serbian will step onto Centre Court once again prepared for a fresh battle, this time against the big-hitting Sinner, one of the most promising young contenders on the ATP Tour.
The Italian showcased his formidable power game once again in Tuesday’s quarterfinals, brushing off one bad patch to defeat Russia’s Roman Saffiulin 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.
If Djokovic is able to win his eighth Wimbledon title, he would share the all-time men’s record with Swiss great Roger Federer. EFE