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Djokovic faces De Minaur test as Rybakina eyes Wimbledon repeat


LONDON:

Alex de Minaur is the latest man standing in the way of the Novak Djokovic juggernaut on Wednesday as the Serbian superstar eyes a 13th Wimbledon semi-final.

Former champion and fourth seed Elena Rybakina, the top woman left in the draw, faces Elina Svitolina.

AFP Sport looks at Wednesday’s four Wimbledon quarter-finals:

A historic 25th Grand Slam triumph is coming into sharp focus for Novak Djokovic, who demolished Holger Rune in straight sets in the fourth round.

Such has been his impressive form that it is easy to forget the 37-year-old had knee surgery after suffering an injury at the French Open.

But the Serb, also aiming to equal Roger Federer’s record of eight men’s singles Wimbledon titles, showed a typically prickly reaction after beating Rune in reaction to crowd support for his Danish opponent.

“If somebody steps over the line, I react,” he said. “That’s basically what it was. After the match I said what I said.”

The world number two divided fans when he burst onto the scene, unafraid to ruffle feathers as he went about smashing the Roger Federer-Rafael Nadal duopoly, even as he built up a loyal army of fans.

Australia’s Alex de Minaur, who won the ‘s-Hertogenbosch event on grass last month, can at least take heart from his victory against Djokovic at the United Cup in January.

Elena Rybakina is the only former women’s champion still in the draw at Wimbledon after an 18th win in 20 matches at the All England Club.

The Russian-born Kazakh player joins Ann Jones and Steffi Graf as the only players in the Open Era to have a 90 percent win rate in the women’s singles at the championship.

The fourth seed said she is a different player from the one who won the title in 2022 — her only Grand Slam triumph to date.

“It is different,” she said. “At the same time when you go on the court you are still nervous a little bit. I think now with all the experience, I just enjoy much more on the court.”

On the other side of net is 21st-seed Elina Svitolina, who broke down in tears after her win against China’s Wang Xinyu on Monday following the deaths of dozens of people in her native Ukraine as a result of Russian strikes.

“I’m playing, of course, such an amazing event as Wimbledon,” she said. “I have to also think about how I can use that in a way for Ukrainian people. At least with my win today, it was a small light that brought a happy moment for Ukrainian people.”

Jelena Ostapenko takes on Barbora Krejcikova in a battle between two former French Open champions.

Latvia’s Ostapenko has dropped just 15 games so far and spent only a shade over four hours on court.

Despite her win at Roland Garros in 2017, Ostapenko’s best Grand Slam is Wimbledon — she made the quarter-finals in the same year as her French Open triumph and a year later reached the semi-finals.

The 14th-ranked player also won the junior Wimbledon title, in 2014.

“This tournament is very special with the traditions,” she said. “It’s just when you come here, the atmosphere is completely different from any other Grand Slam.

“I feel this place is, like, I don’t know, for every tennis player it’s a dream to win Wimbledon.”

Krejcikova, who won at Roland Garros in 2021, had never been beyond the fourth round at Wimbledon before this year but impressed in her last-16 win against Danielle Collins.

Taylor Fritz produced a stunning performance to come back against fourth seed Alexander Zverev in the fourth round, winning in five sets.

The American 13th seed has form on grass, winning eight straight matches dating back to the start of the Eastbourne International last month.

“If you take the risk and go for a shot, you should be rewarded for it,” he said. “I think that’s what I really love about grass.”

His opponent, 25th-ranked Lorenzo Musetti, defeated Fritz 6-4, 6-4 earlier this year on clay in Monte Carlo.

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