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Teenagers Coco Gauff and Emma Raducanu to light up Wimbledon’s last Manic Monday

LONDON — Some intriguing last-16 clashes in the women’s singles promise to make Wimbledon’s last-ever Manic Monday a memorable one with teenagers Coco Gauff and Emma Raducanu topping the bill.

Seventeen-year-old American Gauff’s progress to the fourth round is no surprise, seeing that two years ago she made a sensational debut, reaching the same stage as a qualifier.

Her return as 20th seed has been impressive with three straight-sets victories setting up a clash of the generations against the 33-year-old 2018 champion Angelique Kerber.

The pair have never played against each other but the impressively-mature Gauff said that will not be a problem.

“I’m just so early in my career that pretty much everyone I play is a first-timer,” Gauff told reporters.

“You don’t know how they’re going to play you. How they play someone else may be different on how they play you. You just kind of have to feel it out in the match.”

Second Monday at Wimbledon is always one of the most eagerly-anticipated as its is unique amongst the slams with all the men’s and women’s fourth round singles taking place.

The decision from next year to scrap the middle Sunday rest day will mean the schedule will change — a decision that has not been universally popular with fans.

But the last one should at least be a bit special with the emergence of new home star Raducanu.

Like Gauff, 18-year-old wild card Raducanu, ranked 338, has not dropped a set and is the unlikely last British player standing in the singles draws.

She will be third match on No. 1 Court against experienced Australian Ajla Tomljanović when she will be guaranteed staunch home support from the crowd who have taken her to their hearts.

“I’m just trying to stay here as long as possible. I’m just having such a blast,” Raducanu, the youngest British woman to reach the last 16 at Wimbledon in the professional era, told reporters after her stunning win over Romanian Sorana Cîrstea.

In another intriguing last-16 showdown, top seed Ash Barty will take on the Czech Republic’s Barbora Krejčíková in a battle between the 2019 and 2021 French Open champions.

Barty has looked solid so far if not firing on all cylinders but will need to be tuned in against Krejčíková who is enjoying a stupendous run, racking up 15 successive singles wins and winning the French despite a reputation as a doubles specialist.

“I have played her plenty of times in the doubles court. Never on the singles court,” Barty said. “I’m looking forward to that challenge. I’m looking forward to trying to figure out her game, kind of piece together the puzzle that she presents.”

Poland’s Iga Świątek will also need to do some puzzle-solving against Ons Jabeur, the first Arab woman to reach the last-16 at Wimbledon after stunning Garbine Muguruza on Friday.

Men’s top seed Novak Djokovic has enjoyed a gentle route to the last 16 as he chases a record-equaling 20th Grand Slam title and he will be a big favorite to beat Chile’s Cristian Garin in Monday’s Centre Court opener.

Claycourter Garin, the 17th seed, is something of a surprise name in the fourth round having suffered first-round exits at his previous three Wimbledons.

Second Monday would not feel authentic without eight-time champion Roger Federer and the Swiss maestro, approaching his 40th birthday, has clicked smoothly onto gear after a torrid opening match against Adrian Mannarino.

Federer will face 23rd seed Lorenzo Sonego, one of two Italians in the last 16. The other one, dark horse Matteo Berrettini, has looked supremely confident so far, and should have too much firepower for Belarussian Ilya Ivashka.

Three Russian men have also reached the last 16 — a first in Wimbledon history — with second seed Daniil Medvedev up against Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz, Andrey Rublev playing Hungary’s Márton Fucsovics and Karen Khachanov facing American Sebastian Korda, who is enjoying a superb Wimbledon debut. — Reuters

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