Wimbledon 2024: Rybakina cruises past Svitolina into semifinals; Krejcikova halts Ostapenko’s run

London: Fourth seed and 2022 winner Elena Rybakina stormed past Elina Svitolina into the women’s singles semifinals at the Wimbledon 2024, handing the No.21 seed a straight sets defeat in a last-eight stage match at the Centre Court here on Wednesday.

In another quarterfinal clash, No.31 seed Barbora Krejcikova came from a 1-4 deficit in the second set to reach her first Wimbledon semifinal with a 6-4, 7-6(4) defeat of No.13 seed Jelena Ostapenko in 1 hour and 40 minutes. The 2021 French Open winner Krejcikova will take on Rybakina in the final, hoping to extend the 2-0 head-to-head lead over Rybakina in their semifinal showdown.

Rybakina, the 2022 Wimbledon champion, maintained her impressive record at the event, taking only 61 minutes to oust last year’s semifinalist Svitolina 6-3, 6-2 in a last-eight stage clash. She thus reached the third Grand Slam semifinal of her career and also took a 3-2 lead in her head-to-head with Svitolina.

Rybakina is now on a superb 19-2 win/loss streak in Wimbledon main-draw matches. She reached the Round of 16 in her main-draw debut in 2021 before winning the title the very next year, beating Ons Jabeur in the final. Rybakina’s title defense ended in last year’s quarterfinals when Jabeur avenged that loss.

In the Open Era, Rybakina is the fourth player after Maria Sharapova, Billie Jean King and Chris Evert to win 19 of their first 21 singles matches at Wimbledon. No other players have done better than that in their first 21 matches at Wimbledon. Rybakina will attempt to add another Wimbledon match-win to her rapidly increasing tally when she faces fellow Grand Slam champion Krejcikova in Thursday’s semifinals.

Krejcikova bounced back after failing to serve the match out at 5-4 in the second set to wrap up victory in the tiebreak, advancing to the last four of a Grand Slam for the second time in her career, and first since winning Roland Garros in 2021.

The Czech had lost the previous three matches she had played against Ostapenko, all in straight sets, and five of their seven prior encounters. Moreover, the 2017 Roland Garros champion Ostapenko had been in formidable form this fortnight, dropping just 15 games en route to the last eight.

By contrast, Krejcikova had narrowly survived the longest match of the women’s singles competition so far in the first round, a 7-6(4), 6-7(1), 7-5 marathon over Veronika Kudermetova in 3 hours and 14 minutes. But the former No.2 came out with an astute strategy and a clinical serving performance to blunt Ostapenko’s power.

On Wednesday, Krejcikova chipped and blocked the majority of her returns, and repeatedly deployed a floating forehand slice on defense to keep the point alive. This tactic paid off in key moments: leading 5-3 in the second-set tiebreak, Krejcikova used it to come out on top of a thrilling rally to reach her first match point.

Her slow-ball tactics also made her injections of pace all the more effective for coming out of left field. On multiple occasions, having reset the point with the forehand slice, Krejcikova would hammer a flat forehand crosscourt, catching Ostapenko out every time.

The Czech star backed up this strategy with a formidable serving performance. This was especially the case in the first set. After opening her first service game with two double faults, Krejcikova missed just two more first serves in the remainder of the set — and won all but one point behind the first delivery.

–IANS

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