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Top seed Swiatek survives scare to set up Svitolina clash

LONDON — Women’s top seed Iga Swiatek survived a huge scare before reaching the Wimbledon quarterfinals for the first time and was joined by Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina who also came through an epic fourth-round scrap on Sunday.

Poland’s Ms. Swiatek looked in big trouble against Switzerland’s Olympic champion Belinda Bencic and saved two match points in the second set before clawing out a 6-7(4) 7-6(2) 6-3 victory.

Wildcard Ms. Svitolina was then roared to a 2-6 6-4 7-6(9) win against Belarusian Victoria Azarenka on Court One, recovering from 7-4 down in the champions tiebreak, sealing it with an ace.

In the men’s draw, Andrey Rublev reached his eighth Grand Slam quarterfinal after surviving a fightback by enigmatic Kazakh Alexander Bublik to win in five sets.

But he will have to wait until Monday to discover the identity of his next opponent after defending champion Novak Djokovic withstood an onslaught of aces as he edged into 7-6(6) 7-6(6) lead against Hubert Hurkacz before play was suspended.

Mr. Hurkacz — the man who ended eight-time champion Roger Federer’s Wimbledon career in 2021 — hurled down 23 aces. One effort was clocked at 141mph, the fastest serve of the tournament so far.

Jannik Sinner made the last eight for the second year in succession as he overcame Colombia’s Daniel Galan.

Ms. Swiatek lived to fight another day but it was a mighty close shave for the 22-year-old who has never quite mastered grass despite becoming the dominant force in women’s tennis. Ms. Bencic, the 14th seed, proved a frustrating obstacle for Ms. Swiatek with the four-time Grand Slam champion struggling to master her opponent for the majority of an intriguing tussle.

As the evening gloom set in, Ms. Swiatek eventually got a handle on her opponent’s game, moving clear in the final set before wrapping up victory after more than three hours.

Ms. Bencic will look back at the two match points she had at 5-6 in the second set, the first saved with a powerful Ms. Swiatek forehand and the second with a backhand winner.

Next up for Ms. Swiatek will be former semifinalist Ms. Svitolina who has enjoyed a remarkable comeback from becoming a mother last year, reaching the quarterfinals of the French Open.

Ms. Svitolina had never beaten fellow-mum Ms. Azarenka before but showed great resilience to recover from a bad start and eventually get over the finishing line.

She collapsed on her back after sealing victory and there was no handshake with Ms. Svitolina sticking to her stance of not shaking hands with players from either Belarus or Russia because of the invasion of her country last year.

Bizarrely, the crowd booed Ms. Azarenka as she left the court as they did not understand why the Belarusian failed to offer the obligatory post match handshake.

American fourth seed Jessica Pegula reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals for the first time as she thrashed another Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko 6-1 6-3.

She is only the fifth American woman in the last 25 years to reach the last eight at all four majors.

Pegula will face former French Open runner-up Marketa Vondrousova after she beat Marie Bouzkova 2-6 6-4 6-3. — Reuters

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