Down the stretch at the All England

A pretty nice girl, but she doesn't have a lot to say.

They're down to the last four women and the last four men in the singles competitions of Ye Olde Wimbledon tennis tournament over in Great Britain. On the distaff side, the current favorite, Elena Rybakina of Russia (playing out of Kazakhstan), will face Barbora Krejcikova of Czechia; and Jasmine Paolini of Italy will play Donna Vekic of Croatia. Except for Rybakina, who won the trophy two years ago and was seeded fourth this year, these were not likely semi-finalists when the tournament opened. Vekic was unseeded, Paolini the 7, Krejcikova 31.

When last we checked in on the action, Paolini had nearly lost her previous match against Madison Keys, who had to retire due to injury. But the feisty diminutive Italian stomped another American, Emma Navarro, on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Vekic ended the Cinderella run of Lulu Sun of New Zealand. Yesterday, with the Queen in attendance, Rybakina breezed past Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, and Krejcikova beat Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia in two relatively tight sets.

The women who have advanced all play today. Vekic against Paolini should be a good one to watch. I can't imagine Rybakina against Krejcikova will be much of a battle, but you never know; they both played yesterday,

In the boys' bracket, it's no surprise that Novak Djokovic of Serbia (2) is one of the Final Four, or that the defending Wimbledon champ, Carlos Alcaraz of Spain (3), is, too. Daniil Medvedev of Russia (5) upended top-seeded Jannik Sinner of Italy (1) to reach the semi-finals, but that's not exactly a shock, either. The only genuine eye-opener of the male persuasion is the last of the surviving quartet, Lorenzo Musetti of Italy, the 25 seed who seems likely to be mowed down by the Djoker next. In contrast, Carlos and Daniil, a rematch of last year's semi-final, should be epic.

Musetti's path to the semi-finals was tough. He beat a rocket launcher, Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard of France, in the round of 16, and yesterday he eliminated the last American standing, Taylor Fritz, in five sets. Meanwhile, Djokovic, who had a light draw to begin with, got a walkover when Alex De Minaur of Australia couldn't go, on account of an injury he sustained in the last game of his victory over the Frenchman Arthur Fils. 

Novak stomped the rude Holger Rune of Denmark in straight sets on Monday. The men's semis aren't until tomorrow, which means that Djokovic will have had four days to rest his very recently repaired knee. Good luck, Musetti.

Fritz (13) surprised a lot of us when he edged out Sascha Zverev of Germany (4) in five sets on Monday. Zverev won the first two sets, but he never summoned a killer instinct and dropped the last three. He had one knee in a sleeve; that may have had something to do with his fade. But the guy doesn't seem to have the right mindset for true greatness.

Anyway, the games go on, and the miracle of tape delay is most welcome. So much of Wimbledon this year has been washed out by rain; one can only hope that the sun shines on the matches that remain. It's more fun with the roof open.