Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Ex-Stanford finalists advance to Wimbledon semis

Former world No. 1 Angelique Kerber extended her win-
ning streak to 10 matches today. 2015 photo by Mal Taam
   Six years ago, Angelique Kerber edged Karolina Pliskova to win the now-defunct Bank of the West Classic at Stanford.
   Both former world No. 1s reached the Wimbledon semifinals today. So did Aryna Sabalenka, the runner-up in the 2019 Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic at San Jose State University, a half-hour drive from  Stanford.
   Kerber, the No. 25 seed and 2018 Wimbledon champion, dismissed No. 19 seed Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic 6-2, 6-3 to extend her winning streak to 10 matches. Kerber, a 33-year-old left-hander, won the Bad Homburg Open on home soil in Germany the week before Wimbledon.
   Pliskova, seeded No. 8, beat unseeded Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland 6-2, 6-2. Pliskova, 29, now has reached the semis or better in every Grand Slam tournament. She advanced to the final of the 2016 U.S. Open, losing to Kerber 6-4 in the third set.
   Sabalenka, seeded No. 2, overpowered Tunisia's Ons Jabeur, seeded No. 21, 6-4, 6-3. The 23-year-old Sabalenka, formerly coached by Dmitry Tursunov, had never reached a major quarterfinal until this week.
Karolina Pliskova, also a former world No. 1, now has
reached the semifinals or better in every Grand Slam
tournament. 2015 photo by Mal Taam
   In Saturday's semifinals, Sabalenka will face Pliskova, and Kerber will take on top-ranked Ashleigh Barty of Australia. Barty, 25, dispatched unseeded compatriot Ajla Tomljanovic, a finalist in the 2017 Sacramento (Calif.) Challenger, 6-1, 6-3.
   Kerber, who seeks her fourth Grand Slam singles title, is 2-2 against Barty, the 2019 French Open champion. This will be their first meeting on grass and in a major. 
   Sabalenka leads Pliskova 2-0 in their head-to-head series. Both matches occurred in 2018, and both were close. Sabalenka prevailed 7-6 in the third set on grass in the Eastbourne quarterfinals and 7-5 in the third set in the second round on hardcourts in Cincinnati.
   Also today, No. 14 seed Hubert Hurkacz of Poland defeated No. 2 seed Daniil Medvedev of Russia 2-6, 7-6 (2), 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the completion of a fourth-round match. Entering Wimbledon, the 24-year-old Hurkacz had never advanced past the third round of a Grand Slam tournament.
   Most other matches were postponed by rain.

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