YOU will not see a better women’s singles match than what Johanna Konta and Donna Vekic dished up at Wimbledon on Wednesday night.
Both ladies played the lights out in a contest loaded with quality hitting and clutch serving, but it was the local favourite who prevailed 10-8 in the final set after more than three hours on court.
Sydney-born Konta can expect more than a few starved Australian fans to jump on her bandwagon, especially if Arina Rodionova – the last Aussie hope in either singles draw – falls short on Thursday night.
There was also an upset win for Heather Watson over Anastasija Sevastova, while two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka downed Elena Vesnina.
But perhaps the biggest story of the day came from the unseeded Madison Brengle, who eliminated Petra Kvitova to further stretch what was already a wide-open women’s draw.
A day Madison Brengle will never forget…
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 5, 2017
After the Konta-Vekic thriller, the galleries on centre court were treated to a brief yet entertaining clash featuring men’s number one Andy Murray.
The ever-dangerous Dustin Brown pulled out all his tricks and party pieces, but the fundamentals were lacking as the defending champion eased through 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.
There were no upsets for Rafa Nadal, Marin Cilic, Kei Nishikori, Grigor Dimitrov and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, but 14th seed Lucas Pouille came up short against Poland’s Jerzy Janowicz.
How does that set things up as we approach the middle weekend?
JW Tsonga to beat S Querrey – -263.16
K Nishikori to beat R Bautista Agut – -250
B Paire to beat J Janowicz – +100
V Williams to beat N Osaka – -277.78
V Azarenka to beat Heather Watson – -222.22
D Cibulkova to beat A Konjuh – -111.11
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (12) vs. Sam Querrey (24)
Everybody’s favourite Frenchman has hardly had to flex his considerable muscles so far at Wimbledon 2017. That has not quite been the case for Querrey, who required four sets to see off Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili in the second round. These two played out a thriller here in 2014, but Tsonga has breezed through in two meetings since.
Kei Nishikori (9) vs. Roberto Bautista Agut (18)
After an easy first-up win over Marco Cecchinato, Japan’s brightest star had some tricky moments in his 6-4, 6-7, 6-1, 7-6 win over Sergiy Stakhovsky. His opponent has followed a similar path, dropping a set to Peter Gojowcykz after crushing Andreas Haider-Maurer in the opening round. The Spaniard is yet to beat Nishikori in four attempts, and it should stay that way on the grass.
Benoit Paire vs. Jerzy Janowicz
This is not a glamorous match-up, but it does offer better value than the rest of the men’s draw at this point in the tourney. Paire made short work of Pierre-Hugues Herbert in round two, while Janowicz overcame a significant rankings gap to dispatch Pouille. We choose the Frenchman because he beat this guy on grass only a few weeks back at Stuttgart.
Venus Williams (10) vs. Naomi Osaka
Even the cloud of that fatal car accident and its potential repercussions could not stop Venus as she rallied from a set down on Wednesday to defeat Qiang Wang 4-6, 6-4, 6-1. Next up is a Japanese teenager who claimed a not-insignificant scalp when she tossed out Barbora Strycova in the second round. Osaka has obvious potential, but the experience of Williams should shine through here.
Victoria Azarenka vs. Heather Watson
Back from the birth of her child, Azarenka is looking like a real title threat in this most open of Wimbledon draws. She had absolutely no issues with Vesnina, downing the 15th seed in straight sets. Watson is riding a wave after dumping out Sevastova, but does she have the all-round game to keep up with a lady who has demolished her on each of their four previous meetings?
Dominika Cibulkova (8) vs. Ana Konjuh (27)
After a tough opener that went to 9-7 in the third set, the eighth seed must have enjoyed her uncomplicated win over Jennifer Brady. Now she has a tricky customer who, at 19 years of age, may just fancy her chances of causing the kind of stir Jelena Ostapenko did at the French Open. It was Cibulkova who won when these two met at the tournament, and we suspect she may do so again despite the change of surface.
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