Thrills and agony

The mother of all tennis tournaments is in its second week at Wimbledon, just outside of London. There's been a lot of rain. Not to mention drama, especially in the women's singles. Yesterday, for example, the second-seeded Coco Gauff was handed her walking papers by her fellow American, Emma Navarro, and British darling Emma Raducanu lost to the unknown Lulu Sun of New Zealand, alumna of the University of Texas. 

But the real shocker came at the expense of American Madison Keys (pictured), who had her opponent, the feisty diminutive Italian Jasmine Paolini, beat in the third set. One game away from victory and serving for the match, Keys pulled something in her left thigh on the treacherous grass, and couldn't go on. She left in bitter, bitter tears. Paolini, the singles runner-up at the French Open, now advances to the Elite Eight. Seeded seventh, she is one of only two women remaining out of the top 10 seeds.

The other is Elena Rybakina, the 4 seed from Russia and now the favorite to win, as she did two years ago. All the other big names are out: Iga Swiatek of Poland, a world no. 1 without a grass game; Ons Jabeur of Tunisia; Jessica Pegula of the United States – they have all gone down to defeat. Aryna Sabalenka, the screaming Mimi from Belarus, never played due to a shoulder problem. The defending champ, Marketa Vondrousova of Czechia, lost in the first round.

In the Elite Eight with Sun, Navarro, and Paolini is Donna Vekic of Croatia, who will play Sun. Sun is of Croatian and Chinese ancestry, and that could make the match extra interesting.

Playing for the other four quarterfinal spots today are: 

  • Yulia Putintseva of "Kazakhstan" (nee Russia), who defeated Swiatek in three sets, against Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia, who seems to have had an easy draw until now.
  • American Danielle Collins against the Czech Barbora Krejcikova.
  • Anna Kalinskaya against Rybakina in all all-Russian showdown (although Rybakina, like Putintseva, plays under the Kazakh flag, it's a long story).
  • Elina Svitolina of Ukraine against Wang Xinyu of China. 
If I had to bet, I'd take the seasoned Rybakina to go all the way. But I couldn't tell you who her opponent in the finals would be. None of the four women who won yesterday are supposed to be playing at this point. My rooting interest now is Sun. She's quite the Cinderella story.

Over on the men's side, the singles have not been as wide open. The top five seeds are all still in contention. Also still playing are Americans Tommy Paul and Taylor Fritz. Paul is through to the Elite Eight, where he will run into Carlos Alcaraz of Spain, the 3 seed and defending champ. Fritz faces tortured soul Sascha Zverev of Germany, seeded fourth, in the Round of 16 today.

The other Elite Eight matchup known so far is red-headed Italian Janik Sinner, the top seed, against Daniil Medvedev, the 5 seed and off the top of my head, my favorite Russian person. The other three of the Round of 16 contests, being played today, are:
  • Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard of France (unseeded) against Lorenzo Musetti of Italy (25 seed). 
  • Arthur Fils of France (unseeded) against Alex De Minaur of Australia (9 seed).
  • Holger Rune of Denmark (15 seed) against Novak Djokovic of Serbia (2 seed).
If the semi-finals don't include Alcaraz, Zverev, and Djokovic, I'll eat my hat. It's hard to call it beyond that, though. If I had to pick a winner, I'd have to go with Carlitos. That kid is from another planet.