Wimbledon champion Simona Halep has tested positive for COVID-19 and said Saturday she is “recovering well from mild symptoms.”
The 29-year-old Halep, currently ranked No. 2 in the world, had skipped the U.S. Open due to fears of catching the coronavirus. She said in August that she preferred to stay and train in Europe.
The Romanian player announced her test result Saturday.
“I wanted to let you know that I tested positive for COVID-19. I am self-isolating at home and am recovering well from mild symptoms. I feel good … we will get through this together,” Halep said on Twitter.
Halep, a former top-ranked player, won Wimbledon in 2019 and the French Open in 2018. Wimbledon was cancelled this year because of the pandemic.
Many European countries are experiencing surging numbers of COVID-19 infections. A new wave of lockdowns swept across France, Germany and other places in Europe this week.
Countries such as Switzerland, Italy, Bulgaria Greece have closed or otherwise clamped down again on nightspots and imposed other restrictions such as curfews and mandatory mask-wearing.
In August, Halep expressed concern about travelling to New York for the U.S. Open.
WATCH | Halep posts 14th straight victory to win Italian Open:
Top seed Simona Halep captures his 1st Italian Open title as defending champion Karolina Pliskova retires during the 2nd set of their final. 2:08
Wimbledon was cancelled on Wednesday because of the coronavirus pandemic, the first time since World War II that the oldest Grand Slam tennis tournament won’t be played.
After an emergency meeting, the All England Club announced that the event it refers to simply as “The Championships” is being scrapped for 2020.
Wimbledon was scheduled to be played on the club’s grass courts on the outskirts of London from June 29 to July 12.
Instead, the next edition of the tournament will be June 28 to July 11, 2021.
Also Wednesday, the ATP and WTA announced that the men’s and women’s professional tennis tours would be suspended until at least July 13. They already had been on hold through June 7.
Wimbledon first was held in 1877 and has been contested every year since, with the exception of two stretches: from 1915-18 because of World War I, and from 1940-45 because of World War II.
“It has weighed heavily on our minds that the staging of The Championships has only been interrupted previously by World Wars,” club chairman Ian Hewitt said in a statement.
“But following thorough and extensive consideration of all scenarios, we believe that it is a measure of this global crisis that it is ultimately the right decision to cancel this year’s Championships, and instead concentrate on how we can use the breadth of Wimbledon’s resources to help those in our local communities and beyond.”
U.S. Open still a go
Wimbledon joins the growing list of sports events called off completely in 2020 because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
That includes the Tokyo Olympics, which have been pushed back by 12 months, and the NCAA men’s and women’s college basketball tournaments.
Wimbledon is the first major tennis championship completely wiped out this year because of the coronavirus. The start of the French Open was postponed from late May to late September.
As of now, the U.S. Open is still scheduled to be played in New York from Aug. 31 to Sept. 13.
Wednesday’s decision means Novak Djokovic and Simona Halep will not get a chance to defend their Wimbledon titles from 2019.
The cancellation also takes away what might have been one of Roger Federer’s best chances to try to add to his 20 Grand Slam titles, including a record eight at Wimbledon, where he lost a fifth-set tiebreaker to Djokovic in the last final after holding a pair of championship points. Federer, who turns 39 in August, is currently recovering from knee surgery and planned to return in time for the grass-court circuit.
In a statement last week, the All England Club said that postponing the two-week event would not come “without significant risk and difficulty” because of the grass surface. The club also said then that it already had ruled out “playing behind closed doors” without spectators.
French Open moved to September
The tennis schedule already had been affected by the COVID-19 illness that has spread around the world, with about 20 tournaments postponed or cancelled.
The French Tennis Federation announced March 17 that its Grand Slam tournament was being moved to September.
Hundreds of thousands of people have caught COVID-19, and thousands have died. For most people, it causes mild or moderate symptoms, which can include fever and cough, but also milder cases of pneumonia, sometimes requiring hospitalization. The risk of death is greater for older adults and people with other health problems.
According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.
Regular day-to-day life has come to a halt in many ways in many parts of the world in recent weeks, and sports has reflected that.
The NBA, NHL and MLB are on hold indefinitely; the Kentucky Derby, Masters and Indianapolis 500 were pushed back several months until September; the European soccer championship — scheduled to end in London on the same day as the Wimbledon men’s final — was postponed from 2020 to 2021.
Dominant much of the season against tennis’ elite, Canada’s Bianca Andreescu dropped her second straight match against such an opponent in her opening match at the WTA Finals on Monday as fifth-ranked Simona Halep prevailed 3-6, 7-6(6), 6-3 in Shenzhen, China.
Andreescu, the world No. 4 ahead of her debut at the season-ending tournament, was coming off a quarter-final loss to Naomi Osaka at the China Open in Beijing earlier this month and sports a 9-2 record versus top-10 players in 2019 and 48-6 overall.
A weary-looking Andreescu,who has won 17 of her last 19 main draw matches, took to the court for the third set and needed to have her lower back assessed by a trainer with Halep holding a 3-2 advantage.
Andreescu closed to within 4-3 on a crosscourt forehand return winner but Halep wore her down with each shot of long rallies, broke Andreescu to go up 5-3 and held on serve to win in two hours 35 minutes.
“It was a very tough match,” Halep said. “I knew that she’s a great player and she’s playing till the end without giving up. I had to fight.”
Andreescu was sidelined for months with a right shoulder problem earlier this season before returning in August to beat Serena Williams at the Rogers Cup in Toronto, where the Canadian was hampered by a groin injury. In July 2018, Andreescu dealt with a back issue at the Granby Challenger event in Quebec.
WATCH | Bianca Andreescu outlasted by Simona Halep:
Simona Halep beat Bianca Andreescu of Mississauga, Ont., 3-6, 7-6(6), 6-3 in their opening match of the WTA Finals. 0:41
Huge forehand winner
The youngest player in the field in Shenzhen, the 19-year-old Andreescu had a chance to put away Halep in straight sets leading 6-5 in the second set, but brilliant defence by the 28-year-old Romanian and a backhand down the line forced a tiebreaker.
A resilient Andreescu used a huge forehand winner to even the tiebreaker 3-3 after being down 3-0, but Halep’s ability to return several defensive shots was the difference.
Andreescu excelled during the opening set, save for a two-game stretch, as the Mississauga, Ont.-born player also of Romanian descent changed the pace of play while mixing in high balls and drop shot to go with a devastating forehand.
The WTA Finals, which features the top-eight players in the woman’s game, is split into two groups and follows a round-robin format. Andreescu is in the purple group with No. 2 seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, No. 8 Elina Svitolina of Ukraine and Halep. The red group is comprised of Australia’s Ash Barty, Belinda Bencic of Switzerland, Czech Petra Kvitova and Osaka.
The top two in each group advance to the semifinals.
Andreescu is attempting to complete a sensational season with a fourth title following victories at Indian Wells, the Rogers Cup and U.S. Open in New York, where she defeated 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams in early September to become the first Canadian to win a Grand Slam singles title.
The loss to Osaka was Andreescu’s first on the Tour in six months not counting withdrawals and retirements and halted a 17-match win streak that saw the resident of Thornhill, Ont., soar up the WTA rankings. Her current ranking is the best ever by a Canadian woman and she has a chance to top the No. 3 ranking Milos Raonic achieved on the men’s tour.
Andreescu is the first Canadian to play in the WTA Finals since Eugenie Bouchard in 2014.
Svitolina extends WTA Finals run
Svitolina, the defending champion, stretched her unbeaten run at the WTA Finals into a new year, beating Pliskova 7-6 (12), 6-4 in her opening match Monday.
Svitolina, the only player in this year’s field who has not won a title this season, was unbeaten in the tournament last year.
After exchanging service breaks in the first set, Svitolina converted her seventh set point. Pliskova also had a chance to take the first set, but she failed to take advantage of a set point at 9-8 in the tiebreaker.
Svitolina then jumped ahead 2-0 in the second set and then broke again for a 4-3 lead.
The victory gives Svitolina a 1-0 record in the Purple Group, while Pliskova is 0-1.
Pliskova, who had won all three of her previous opening matches at the WTA Finals, leads the tour with four titles this season — winning in Brisbane, Rome, Eastbourne and Zhengzhou. She also leads the tour with most aces served at 481.
Clutching her trophy 20 minutes after becoming Wimbledon’s champion, Simona Halep checked out the board inside Centre Court that lists tournament winners. Below all of the mentions of Serena Williams, her opponent in Saturday’s final, there already was inscribed: “Miss S. Halep.”
Halep was not concerned with preventing Williams from winning a 24th Grand Slam title. All Halep cared about was winning her first at the All England Club. And she played pretty much perfectly.
On top of her game right from start to finish, Halep overwhelmed Williams 6-2, 6-2 in stunning fashion for her second major championship. The whole thing took less than an hour as Williams lost her third Slam final in a row as she tries to equal Margaret Court’s record for most major trophies in tennis history.
“I’m very sure,” Halep said, “that was the best match of my life.”
WATCH | Halep wins 1st Wimbledon title:
Romanian Simona Halep beats tennis legend Serena Williams 6-2, 6-2 in the women’s single final at Wimbledon. 1:21
The No. 7-seeded Romanian made a mere three unforced errors, a remarkably low total and 23 fewer than Williams.
Not bad for someone who has been frank about how jittery she has gotten in past big matches and began the day having lost nine of 10 matchups against Williams. But after losing each of her first three major finals, Halep now has won two straight, including at last year’s French Open.
“She literally played out of her mind. Congratulations, Simona,” Williams said during the trophy ceremony. “It was a little bit ‘a deer in the headlights’ for me.”
2014 — Petra Kvitova def. Eugenie Bouchard, 6-3, 6-0
1992 — Steffi Graf def. Monica Seles, 6-2, 6-1
1983 — Martina Navratilova def. Andrea Jaeger, 6-0, 6-3
1981 — Chris Evert Lloyd def. Hana Mandlikova, 6-2, 6-2
1975 — Billie Jean King def. Evonne Goolagong Cawley, 6-0, 6-1
1974 — Chris Evert def. Olga Morozova, 6-0, 6-4
Williams also lost in straight sets against Angelique Kerber in the Wimbledon final a year ago, and against Naomi Osaka at the U.S. Open last September.
“I just have to figure out a way to win a final,” Williams said.
The 37-year-old American hasn’t won a tournament since the 2017 Australian Open, when she set the professional-era record of 23 Grand Slam championships (Court won 13 of her titles against amateur competition).
Williams was pregnant when she won in Australia and then took more than a year off the tour; her daughter, Olympia, was born in September 2017.
Since returning to tennis, Williams has dealt with injuries but still managed to remain among the game’s elite. In part because of a bad left knee, she only had played 12 matches all season until Wimbledon.
Halep keeps focus on herself
“Just got to keep fighting,” Williams said, “and just keep trying.”
Didn’t take long on Saturday for the 27-year-old Halep to demonstrate this was not going to be easy for Williams.
Not by any means.
Showing off the talents and traits that once lifted her to No. 1 in the rankings, Halep never really gave Williams a chance to get into the match.
“I’ve always been intimidated a little bit when I faced Serena. She’s an inspiration for everyone and the model for everyone,” Halep said. “Today, I decided before the match that I’m going to focus on myself and on the final of [a] Grand Slam, not on her. That’s why I was able to play my best, to be relaxed, and to be able to be positive and confident against her.”
Halep tracked down everything, as is her wont. She didn’t merely play defence, though, managing to go from retrieving an apparent point-ending stroke by Williams to lashing a winner of her own in a blink.
“I was over-hitting it, trying to go for too much,” Williams said. “She was getting just a tremendous amount of balls back.”
Her returns were exceptional, repeatedly getting back serves that left Williams’ racket at 115 mph or more.
On this cloudy, cool afternoon, with the temperature in the low 70s (low 20s Celsius), Halep began with a pair of service breaks and even delivered the match’s first ace, at 106 mph, which put her out front 4-0 after 11 astonishing minutes.
Halep won 14 of the first 18 points, with many in the crowd roaring for each of the rare ones that went Williams’ way. Halep produced eight winners before a single unforced error, avoiding a miscue until the seventh game.
Comeback never came
Williams, in stark contrast, came out looking a bit tight, short-arming shots and accumulating nine unforced errors before conjuring up a single winner. She spoke after her semifinal victory about trying to remain calm on court, and that she did, even in the face of a player who was at her very best.
Williams would place a hand on her hip. Or put a palm up and look at her guest box, as if thinking, “What can I do?” Williams’ greatest show of emotion came after she stretched for a forehand volley winner on the second set’s second point. She leaned forward and yelled, “Come on!”
But the comeback never came. Halep broke to lead 3-2 in that set when Williams pushed a backhand long, and there wasn’t much left from there.
Halep only had been as far as the semifinals once at Wimbledon until now. But she was determined to change that and said she told the locker-room attendants at the beginning of the tournament she wanted to grab a title to earn lifetime membership in the All England Club.
“So here I am,” she said Saturday, the fortnight done, her trophy won. “It was one of my motivations before this tournament. So now I am happy.”
Dabrowski in women’s doubles final Sunday
The Wimbledon women’s doubles final has been postponed because the men’s doubles final has stretched to a fifth set.
The women’s match pitting Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova against Gabriela Dabrowski of Ottawa and Xu Yifan will be played Sunday instead.
That was scheduled to follow the men’s doubles final on Centre Court. But that match — Juan-Sebastian Caval and Robert Farah against Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin — was already past the four-hour mark when it headed to a fifth set after four tiebreakers.
Darkness was approaching, so the retractable roof at Centre Court was closed, further delaying things.
Roger Federer waited 11 years to get another shot at Rafael Nadal on Centre Court. This one was a semifinal, not a final. It was settled in four sets, not five.
Felt like just as much of a classic contest, though, one that anyone present is not likely to forget.
That, of course, includes Federer, who managed to pull away and beat long-time rival Nadal 7-6 (3), 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 Friday by finally coming through on his fifth match point.
“I’m exhausted. It was tough at the end,” said Federer.”Rafa played some unbelievable shots to stay in the match. I thought the match was played at a very high level.”
Federer closed in on a ninth championship at the All England Club and 21st Grand Slam trophy in all. In Sunday’s final, Federer will go up against Novak Djokovic, who is the defending champion and seeded No. 1.
WATCH | Federer defeats Nadal to reach 12th career Wimbledon final
Roger Federer will face defending Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic in the final after beating Rafael Nadal 7-6 (3), 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the semis. 2:15
Djokovic overcame Roberto Bautista Agut 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 earlier Friday to reach his sixth Wimbledon final.
As entertaining as that match was — including a 45-stroke point won by Djokovic — it was merely a tasty appetizer ahead of the day’s delectable main course.
Not only was this the 40th installment of Federer vs. Nadal, but it also was their first meeting at Wimbledon since the 2008 final. Nadal won that one 9-7 in the fifth set that ended after 9 p.m., as any trace of daylight disappeared, in what some consider the greatest tennis match in the sport’s lengthy annals.
How excited, then, were the spectators for the rematch, more than a decade in the making? When Federer and Nadal strode out into the sunshine at 4:30 p.m., they were welcomed by a standing ovation before ever swinging a racket.
Quickly, that greeting was justified. These are, of course, two of the greats of all-time — maybe the two greatest — and they lived up to that status for stretches.
One key, for Federer, was that his rebuilt backhand, hit strong and flat more frequently than it used to be, held steady against Nadal’s bullwhip of a lefty forehand. Another was that he was able to withstand Nadal’s serve, which has improved a ton over the years. Federer amassed 10 break points, and though he succeeded on just two, that was enough, with the last, vital conversion making it 2-1 in the fourth set. And then there was this: Federer won 25 of the 33 points when he went to the net.
“I didn’t play well enough,” said Nadal, who lost a five-set semifinal to Djokovic a year ago.
There was something of an “Anything you can do, I can do, too” vibe to the proceedings. Federer would kick up chalk with an ace to a corner, and Nadal would do the same in the next game. When Nadal jumped out to a 3-2 lead in the first-set tiebreaker, Federer used sublime returning to reel off five points in a row to claim it.
Who else but Federer could strike a serve so well that Nadal’s framed response would end up caught by someone seated in the Royal Box, as happened early in the second set? Who else but Nadal could attack Federer’s generally unassailable forehand in such a manner as to draw one so out of character and off the mark that it landed in the third row, as happened later in that set?
No one ever has managed to reduce Federer to mid-match mediocrity quite the way Nadal can on occasion, part of why the Spaniard entered Friday with a 24-15 overall lead head-to-head, including 10-3 at Grand Slam tournaments.
This was the second major in a row where they’ve faced off: Nadal won their windy French Open semifinal last month en route to his 12th championship on the red clay there. But Wimbledon is Federer’s dominion. He’s won 101 matches at the place — more than any other man at any other Slam, even Nadal at Roland Garros — and eight trophies.
Djokovic headed back to Final
Earlier, Djokovic watched the 23rd-seeded Bautista Agut’s shot hit the net tape, pop in the air and slide over for a winner that tied their semifinal at a set apiece. Walking to his changeover chair, as fans roared with approval, Djokovic nodded and waved his racket, then his right hand, at the crowd, sarcastically encouraging folks to get louder, as if to say, “Yeah, good for him and good for you. Enjoy it while you can.”
Soon enough, he was ending that 45-stroke point — the longest on record at Wimbledon, where such stats date to 2006 — with a backhand winner to save a break point, then cupping his ear while glaring into the stands.
“I had to dig deep,” Djokovic said.
WATCH | Defending champion Djokovic returns to Wimbledon final
Top seed and defending champion Novak Djokovic beat Roberto Bautista Agut 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 Friday to reach his sixth final at the All England Club. 0:55
His match was his 36th career appearance in the final four at a major tournament — and the debut in that round for Bautista Agut.
Even Bautista Agut didn’t really expect his visit to the All England Club to last this long: The Spaniard was supposed to meet a half-dozen of his buddies on the island of Ibiza this weekend for his bachelor party. Instead, those pals were sitting in a guest box at Centre Court on Friday.
Eventually, Djokovic took control with his enviable ability to return serves, track down balls and go from defence to offence.
Now he’s Federer’s problem.
“I hope I can push him to the brink and hopefully beat him. But it’s going to be very difficult, as we know,” Federer said. “He’s not No. 1 just by chance.”
Slowed by a balky ankle, trailing by a service break in the third set of her Wimbledon quarter-final, Serena Williams appeared to be in trouble Tuesday against an opponent playing the tournament of her life.
Williams was down, yes. But out? No way. And now she is two victories from that 24th Grand Slam title that’s been barely eluding her.
Lifting her play a much-needed notch down the stretch to grab the last three games, capping the comeback with her 19th ace — at 121 mph, no less — Williams reached the semifinals at the All England Club by gutting out a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 win over 55th-ranked Alison Riske.
“I had to just button up and play hard,” said Williams, who owns seven Wimbledon titles. “She was playing her heart out.”
WATCH | Serena Williams relies on her returns to get through quarter-finals:
Despite a poor day of serving, the 7-time champion dug deep to beat Alison Riske 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 Tuesday on Centre Court. 1:05
That she was. Riske, a 29-year-old from Pittsburgh, was appearing in her first major quarter-final. For Williams, this was No. 51.
That might have made all the difference. It’s Williams who possesses boundless muscle memory in these situations, who knows what it takes to come through in the tightest contests on the biggest stages.
“I definitely thought maybe I had a peek here and there at a couple openings, but Serena really upped her level, as only a champion would,” Riske said.
Strycova, Svitolina reach 1st Grand Slam semifinals
“It was really, actually, very interesting for me to be on the opposite end, because I felt her up her game and her intensity,” Riske said with a smile. “Yeah, I hope she takes the title now.”
Next for the 37-year-old Williams will be a match against 54th-ranked Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic, who reached her first Grand Slam semifinal at age 33 with a 7-6 (5), 6-1 victory over No. 19 Johanna Konta of Britain. The other semifinal Thursday will be No. 7 Simona Halep of Romania against No. 8 Elina Svitolina of Ukraine.
WATCH | Simona Halep off to semifinals after straight-sets win:
For the second time in her career, the Romanian booked a spot in the All England Club’s final four with a 7-6 (4), 6-1 over Zhang Shuai. 1:02
Halep, a former No. 1 who won the 2018 French Open, followed up her elimination of 15-year-old sensation Coco Gauff by defeating Zhang Shuai of China 7-6 (4), 6-1 to get to her second semifinal at Wimbledon. Svitolina will make her debut in that round at any major tournament thanks to beating Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic 7-5, 6-4.
These sorts of stakes, and this sort of setting, are unfamiliar for Riske, who mistakenly headed to her changeover chair thinking the match’s fifth game was over when the score was just 40-15.
Spectators chortled; she grinned and walked back to the baseline.
And so even if Williams was hardly perfect, she did get by, aided by her greatest-in-the-game serve and Riske’s miscues. Most glaringly, Riske double-faulted five times in the final set, at least somewhat a result of trying to do too much against William’s superb returns.
“It’s no secret that Serena has an amazing serve. But Serena has an equally-as-amazing return,” Riske said. “I’ve never played anyone that has a return like Serena. That put a lot of pressure on my serve.”
Riske wilted late
Still, Riske played tremendously well for most of the afternoon, just as she did while going 14-1 on grass in 2019 until Tuesday.
She won two of Williams’ first four service games and finished 5-for-5 on break points. Her deep and flat groundstrokes off both sides jarred Williams repeatedly. Until, that is, Riske wilted late — which was understandable, given that she became the first woman in Wimbledon history to play three-setters in five consecutive matches to open the tournament, according to the WTA.
Williams rolled her right ankle and her movement was hardly ideal. Late in the second set, she was visited by a trainer, who applied extra tape to the ankle. That was during a stretch when Riske, talking to herself between points, claimed four games in a row to take the second set and lead the third by a break at 1-0.
“I thought,” Riske said, “I was very close.”
WATCH | 54th-ranked Barbora Strycova advances to semifinals:
The 33-year-old upset England’s own Johanna Konta 7-6(5), 6-1 to qualify for the first major semifinal of her career. 1:10
Not close enough. Williams was not going to go quietly. She held at love to lead 4-3, and then came the key game. Riske saved a trio of break points and was a point from 4-all after claiming a point when Williams slipped along the well-worn baseline.
First Williams got back to deuce by using a drop shot to set up a volley winner. Then she earned yet another break point on a thrilling 10-stroke exchange, using a drop shot to bring Riske forward and delivering a volley winner. Williams lifted both arms and jutted her jaw. In the stands, her husband leaped from his seat, pointed his index fingers at her and screamed.
On the next point, Riske double-faulted, handing over the last break Williams needed.
‘Really, really long year’
After breaking Steffi Graf’s record for most Grand Slam trophies in the professional era by winning her 23rd at the 2017 Australian Open while pregnant, Williams took time off. Since returning to the tour last season, she came close to equaling Margaret Court’s Slam count of 24 — which was accumulated in part against amateurs — but lost in the finals at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.
WATCH | Elina Svitolina outlasts Karolina Muchova:
Elina Svitolina downed the Czech Republic’s Karolina Muchova 7-5, 6-4 to set up a semifinal showdown with Simona Halep. 1:10
Williams dealt with injuries and illness this year, playing just 12 matches until last week.
“This is the first time since [January] that I actually felt, like, good,” she said at her news conference, while her daughter, Olympia, was held by Williams’ agent at the back of the room. “It’s been a really, really long year for me already, and hard year.”
That’s true. Also true: She’s Serena Williams.
And so here she is, back in Wimbledon’s semifinals for the 12th time.
“She’s something,” Riske said, “our sport has never seen before.”
Three years ago in the fourth round at Wimbledon, Canadian Milos Raonic came back from a two-sets-to-none deficit for the first time in his career to beat Belgium’s David Goffin in five sets.
On Monday, Raonic found himself on the losing side of a strikingly similar scenario when he was defeated after leading two sets to none in the fourth round at Wimbledon by Argentina’s Guido Pella. It’s the first time in his career that Raonic has lost a match after winning the first two sets.
The 28-year-old from Thornhill, Ont., bowed out 3-6, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3), 8-6 to Pella, a player seven months older than Raonic who, in 12 years as a pro, had never advanced beyond the third round of any Grand Slam tournament. Now he’s in the Wimbledon quarter-finals.
Raonic said he simply ran out of gas.
“I wasn’t efficient and wasn’t able to play the way I needed to,” said Raonic, who fired 33 aces among his 80 winners and won 74-of-110 points at the net. “He started getting in more points and I had to find a way to create like I did early on in the match.”
WATCH | Milos Raonic lets 2-set lead slip away:
Guido Pella needed five sets and nearly four hours to advance past Milos Raonic at Wimbledon 3-6, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(3), 8-6. 2:07
As the match went on, Pella found his range and started landing his returns at Raonic’s feet far more often. The resulting volleys were difficult ones, and Raonic couldn’t make enough of them.
It had to have helped that Pella faced — and defeated — another big server in the previous round in No. 4 seed Kevin Anderson of South Africa.
Raonic had neither the energy nor the inclination to try to hold firm at the baseline with a clay-court player happy to engage in long rallies. And he was struggling to win points at the net. So his options were limited.
Despite his physical woes , Raonic still had every chance to win. He served for the match in the third set, but was broken.
And in the fifth set he saved three match points. But the Canadian couldn’t save the fourth.
“I was serving significantly slower as the match went on,” Raonic said. “I just didn’t have that push in my legs to serve with the same sort of conviction and to keep him guessing. ΓÇª I became a bit predictable. I started going to a few serves that maybe take a little bit more slice and not going for the flat or aggressive ones that I would normally need to use much more.”
This was the first five-set match Raonic had played since the U.S. Open last summer, and only his second since he defeated Alexander Zverev in the fourth round at the All-England Club a year ago.
“It’s frustrating. It’s twice this year,” Raonic said. “I ran out of gas in Australia (in the quarter-finals against Lucas Pouille of France) and ran out of gas here. That happened to me a few times early in my career, and I thought it was unacceptable, and I think of it exactly the same way now.”
But he wouldn’t ascribe the lack of endurance to the lack of match play because of his back injury. Rather, Raonic said he would re-assess what he’s been doing on the physical side.
“I think I had enough weeks at home to train, to do fitness. I just have to review what I did well and more importantly what I didn’t,” he said. “I feel like I have been making a few blunders on those decisions and how I spend my time when I have been training. I think that all needs to be put into consideration.”
The other Canadians in action Monday were more successful.
Ottawa’s Gabriela Dabrowski and her Chinese partner Yifan Xu avenged a heartbreaking loss to Yingying Duan and Saisai Zheng of China in the quarter-finals of the French Open by defeating them 7-5, 6-3.
The pair, seeded fourth, advanced to the quarter-finals of the ladies’ doubles before Dabrowski and partner Mate Pavic of Croatia even began their mixed doubles campaign. The pair, seeded third, had a bye in the first round.
On Monday evening, they faced the unseeded but well-decorated team of Jamie Murray and Bethanie Mattek-Sands in the second round.
Play was suspended because of darkness at 3-4 in the third set with Murray and Mattek-Sands about to serve to try to even things up. Dabrowski and Pavic had led the third set 3-1. They will resume on Tuesday.
In the junior event, Liam Draxl of Newmarket, Ont. advanced to the second round of the boys singles with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over British wild card Jack Pinnington-Jones.
Draxl, a 17-year-old who committed to the University of Kentucky last October and will start there this fall, is the No. 12 seed.
Serena Williams reaches another milestone
Even though she is short on matches this year, Serena Williams is still big on grass.
The seven-time Wimbledon champion reached the quarter-finals at the All England Club for the 14th time, beating Carla Suarez Navarro 6-2, 6-2 on Monday.
Williams, who missed about a year of play while she had a baby in 2017 but returned to the tennis tour in 2018, had not played since the third round of the French Open — skipping the grass-court warm-up tournaments.
“I definitely haven’t had enough [matches],” said Williams, who had been dealing with an injured left knee. “I have more matches this week than literally the past five months. So, yikes.”
Williams reached the quarter-finals at the Australian Open, then retired from a match at Indian Wells, withdrew from matches in Miami and Rome, and then played at the French Open.
“I know that I can play, and now that I’m feeling better physically I almost feel a relief more than anything,” Williams said. “Like, OK, finally I can play tennis.”
Against Suarez Navarro, Williams won six straight games from 3-2 in the first set and broke for a 5-2 lead in the second. She easily closed it out from there.
WATCH | A healthy Serena Williams beats Carla Suarez Navarro in straight sets:
Serena Williams defeated Carla Suarez Navarro 6-2, 6-2 to advance to her 14th women’s singles quarter-final at Wimbledon. 1:04
Williams, who lost to Angelique Kerber in last year’s Wimbledon final, will next face Alison Riske, an unseeded American who upset top-ranked Ash Barty.
Williams’s last loss was also against American opposition, Sofia Kenin in the third round at Roland Garros.
“Well, the last time I faced a fellow American I lost, so I definitely want to do well this time,” Williams said. “And yeah, she’s great on the grass. She took out the No. 1 player in the world who just won a grass-court tournament. I watched that match, so I’ll be ready for her.”
Riske ended Barty’s 15-match winning streak and her chances of winning a second straight Glam Slam title.
Alison Riske advances to her first Grand Slam quarter-final with a surprising 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 win over Ashleigh Barty. 1:36
Riske beat the French Open champion 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 and will play in the quarter-finals of a major tournament for the first time.
“I haven’t been starting out fantastic in all my matches, but I knew I had the confidence that if I could manage my service games I was going to get looks on her serve,” said Riske, whose best previous showing was reaching the third round at Wimbledon and the fourth round at the 2013 U.S. Open. “I had to play aggressive. I had to take it to Ash.”
I let Alison get back into the match too many times, having looks at second serves.— Ash Barty
Barty was playing her first tournament as the No. 1-ranked player, and she started off by winning points with her serve against Riske.
In the opening service game, the top-seeded Barty won all four points with aces. She won two more points in her next game with aces, as well. She finished the match with 12 of them.
But Riske took her chances when she got them, breaking Barty four times on four attempts, including to take a 5-3 lead in the deciding set before serving it out.
“I was sticking to how I wanted to play,” Barty said. “Then in the second set, I think my serve let me down. I let Alison get back into the match too many times, having looks at second serves.”
2-time champ Nadal moves on
Also, No. 19 Johanna Konta eliminated two-time champion Petra Kvitova 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, No. 8 Elina Svitolina beat No. 24 Petra Martic 6-4, 6-2, Zhang Shuai defeated Dayana Yastremska 6-4, 1-6, 6-2, Karolina Muchova beat No. 3 Karolina Pliskova 4-6, 7-5, 13-11, and Barbora Strycova came from a set and break down to beat Elise Mertens 4-6, 7-5, 6-2.
Tuesday’s other quarter-final on the top half of the women’s draw will be Konta of Britain against Strycova of the Czech Republic. On the bottom half, it’ll be Svitolina of Ukraine against Muchova of the Czech Republic, and No. 1 Simona Halep against Zhang Shuai of China.
In the men’s draw, four-time champion Novak Djokovic advanced along with two-time winner Rafael Nadal. Djokovic beat Ugo Humbert 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 while Nadal defeated Joao Sousa 6-2, 6-2, 6-2.
WATCH | Rafael Nadal makes quick work of Joao Sousa:
Rafael Nadal eliminated Joao Sousa in the round of 16 in straight sets 6-2, 6-2, 6-2. 1:04
In other men’s matches, No. 21 David Goffin beat Fernando Verdasco 7-6 (9), 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, Sam Querrey eliminated Tennys Sandgren 6-4, 6-7 (9), 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5), and Roberto Bautista Agut defeated Benoit Paire 6-3, 7-5, 6-2.
The first two men’s quarter-finals set up for Wednesday are No. 1 Djokovic vs. Goffin of Belgium, and No. 3 Nadal against 65th-ranked Querrey of the United States.
WATCH | Top-ranked Novak Djokovic breezes to quarter-finals:
Novak Djokovic is off to the quarter-finals at Wimbledon with a straight sets win over Ugo Humbert 6-3, 6-2, 6-3. 0:35
Roger Federer, the record eight-time champion at the All England Club, was playing Matteo Berrettini later Monday.
Gauff’s impressive run ends in 4th round
American Coco Gauff, 15, lost to former No. 1 Simona Halep 6-3, 6-3 in the fourth round.
Halep broke Gauff five times and took advantage of 29 unforced errors. Gauff saved two match points when serving at 5-2 but Halep clinched the win when the teenager sent a forehand wide in the next game.
Gauff was playing in her first Grand Slam tournament after becoming the youngest player to qualify for Wimbledon’s main draw in the professional era and knocked out five-time champion Venus Williams in the first round.
WATCH | Cinderella run ends for Gauff:
15-year-old Coco Gauff couldn’t advance past the round of 16, losing in straight sets to Simona Halep 6-3, 6-3. 1:24
Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov is out of the U.S. Open, while veteran Milos Raonic is moving on to the fourth round.
Raonic topped 2016 U.S. Open champion Stan Wawrinka 7-6 (6), 6-4, 6-3 to book a berth in the last 16 on Friday.
Wawrinka, making his first return to the site of his 2016 triumph since undergoing knee surgery, showed he was still shaking off the ring rust despite encouraging victories in the first two rounds.
The first set went down to the wire with nothing to choose between the two rivals, neither of whom were unduly troubled on serve.
Click on the video player below to watch Raonic rip into the 4th round:
Milos Raonic defeats Stan Wawrinka in straight sets 7-6 (6), 6-4, 6-3. 1:13
Raonic lost the first three points of the tiebreak before recovering to level at 3-3 and showed great strength of character to save two set points before going on to claim the opener.
"It was tough," the big-serving Canadian said in an on-court interview. "I was fortunate I got through that because I was falling behind in that tiebreak."
Wawrinka, who had won four of his five previous matches against Raonic, could not match his opponent's intensity in the final two sets and paid the price for some poor shot selection.
The 33-year-old is one of the best all-court players on the men's circuit and his one-handed backhand is matched only by that of his compatriot Roger Federer in terms of elegance.
Raonic's killer instinct
It let him down repeatedly on Friday, though, as Raonic, sensing a weakness, targeted that side and duly prospered.
The Canadian serve-and-volley specialist made sure he stayed on the front foot throughout, firing down 14 aces to Wawrinka's four and coming to the net behind his booming serve 37 times with a success rate of 73 percent.
"I've got to just keep getting sharper," added Raonic, who is seeded 25th. "I've got to find a way to get ahead a little earlier in the points and not get too defensive.
"If I can play on my terms I can compete against anybody."
Next up for the 27-year-old is a last-16 clash with American John Isner, the 11th seed, who beat Serbian Dusan Lajovic earlier in the day.
Shapovalov loses 5-set thriller against Anderson
The 19-year-old Shapovalov dropped a hard-fought, five-set loss in the third round to No. 5 Kevin Anderson.
Anderson took control of the fifth set with an early break and went on to a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 victory, setting up a fourth-round meeting with ninth-seeded Dominic Thiem.
Watch highlights from Shapovalov's match:
Anderson knocked off Shapovalov 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 to advance to the fourth round of the U.S. Open. 2:01
While Shapovalov showed a lot of emotion on the court — fist-pumping and yelling after scoring on audacious backhand shots and throwing his racket in frustration after surrendering key points — the experience and imposing serve of the six-foot-eight South African proved too much to overcome.
"It's a couple points here and there. Like I said, it was a close match. I had a lot of chances to break back, wasn't able to do it today. He served big when he needed to, played unbelievably big. Yeah, it was a great match," said Shapovalov.
"We were both really happy with our tennis. It's great to be out there. Yeah, obviously it's disappointing to lose, but a lot of positives from it," he added.
'I feel like such a different player'
Still, Shapovalov, a 19-year-old form Richmond Hill, Ont., showed flashes of brilliance in the loss, particularly in the fourth set when he had the crowd on it feet as he broke Anderson in the deciding game.
Shapovalov battled in the fifth set when he fought off four match points en route to winning the ninth game, but Anderson held Shapovalov to love in the deciding game to take the match.
Denis Shapovalov, above, fell to Kevin Anderson 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 in the third round of the 2018 U.S. Open on Friday evening. (Elsa/Getty Images)
The Canadian prodigy said his game has grown in leaps since his run to the fourth round of the U.S. Open in 2017.
"I feel like I've come back here a year — from last year, it's been a year now, and I feel like such a different player. I feel like I've improved so much in my game, mentally," said Shapovalov.
"I just feel like I belong out there this year. I'm able to compete with anyone out there, as I showed today. I feel like my game's at a different level."