National Sports

Tennis-Clinical Rybakina ends Svitolina run to reach Wimbledon semis

Wimbledon

By Pritha Sarkar

LONDON (Reuters) -The rare sighting of the sun at this year’s Wimbledon championships provided no incentive for Elena Rybakina to linger around longer than necessary on Centre Court as she ended Elina Svitolina’s quarter-final challenge with a 6-3 6-2 defeat.

Over the course of the last five days, the grasscourt major had started to resemble an indoor tournament with matches on the two main showcourts taking place under cover.

With the retractable roof on Centre Court finally open under a clear blue sky on Wednesday, spectators flocking into the 15,000 seater arena were hoping that the Rybakina-Svitolina duel would be a long and thrilling one.

After all this was the only singles match they were going to get to watch on day 10 of the championships since Novak Djokovic’s quarter-final with Alex de Minaur had already been cancelled after the Australian pulled out with a hip injury, handing the Serbian a walkover.

All the fans got in return for their £200 ($260) Centre Court tickets was one hour and one minute of singles action.

Giving value for money to the punters was not exactly high on the priority list for Rybakina. All the fourth seed wanted was to take the win and move another step closer to lifting the Venus Rosewater Dish for the second time in three years – the quicker the better.

“Really pleased with the way I played today. Thank you so much guys for coming and supporting us,” Rybakina told the crowd, who might have felt they had been rather short-changed despite a mixed doubles tie and a legends’ match being moved to fill the gap.

“It’s always tough to play against Elina, she’s a great player, great fighter. No matter the score, it is not as easy as it might look like.

“I want to win again. It’s getting closer … I have such amazing memories from 2022 and I’m just enjoying every time I step on the court, especially when I play good,” added Rybakina after setting up a showdown with 2021 French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova for a place in Saturday’s final.

QUEEN CAMILLA WATCHING

Rybakina, the highest seed left in the women’s draw, was so fixated with the task at hand that she did not even notice Britain’s Queen Camilla watching on from the front row of the Royal Box.

“Oh, wow, I didn’t even see (her). That’s amazing,” Rybakina said after walking off court.

That single-minded focus helped Rybakina to recover from dropping her opening service game and she went on to produce a majestic performance to extend her perfect grasscourt record to 2-0 against the Ukrainian.

From 3-3 in the first set, Rybakina was on a roll as she won five games in a row as Svitolina kept looking at her husband Gael Monfils in the players’ box for some much needed inspiration.

Svitolina had captivated Wimbledon 12 months ago when she had cast aside four Grand Slam champions to reach the semi-finals just eight months after the birth of her daughter Skai.

There would be no repeat of that magical run on Wednesday. Rybakina’s performance was so dominant and stifling, the crowd even struggled to engage with either player or get behind underdog Svitolina.

The Russian-born Kazakh, the only women’s champion left in the draw, sealed the first set with a 115mph thunderbolt and fired down another ace – her seventh of the match – to complete the one-sided victory.

“It was extremely tough today. I tried everything that was in my power today. Nothing really was working so much. She didn’t really let me into the match,” a dejected Svitolina said.

“When the opponent is striking the ball that big, everything goes in. Serve goes really quick. Lots of aces. It’s tough to do anything.

“I was trying to dig, trying to fight, trying to get my chances back but she didn’t really let me.”

($1 = 0.7791 pounds)

(Reporting by Pritha Sarkar; Editing by Alison Williams)

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