Right I’m going to wrap this up now, but it sounds like Konta had a fierce interrogation after her defeat by Barbora Strycova earlier. This is an extract from Kevin Mitchell’s updated report.
Here, however, after attributing the result to the excellence of her opponent, she snapped at the suggestion she was not facing up to the scale of her shortcomings when approaching the concluding weekend of a slam.
In a heated exchange with one inquisitor who pointed out she had made 34 unforced errors in an hour and 37 minutes, Konta said: “Is that in your professional tennis opinion?” before adding: “I don’t think you need to pick on me in a harsh way. I think I’m very open with you guys. I say how I feel out there. If you don’t want to accept that answer or you don’t agree with it, that’s fine. I still believe in the tennis that I play. I still believe in the way I competed.”
Konta’s devotion to her “process” and “acceptance” does not allow for negativity – and there was plenty of that coming her way in an unusually tough press conference. The exchange slithered to an ugly finish when the normally ultra-polite Konta said, “Please don’t patronise me.”
You can read the full report here:
And be sure to check back in for the report on Murray and Williams’s march towards the business end of the mixed doubles competition here shortly.
Murray and Williams speak. “We’re getting in the groove of things. We’re starting to feel the rhythm,” beams Serena Williams. “I’m having a blast. It’s a great atmosphere playing out there with Andy.”
Murray is understandably full of praise for his brilliant partner: “She returned brilliantly, clean winners a lot of the time, making my job easy but I was missing on the break points. If she keeps returning like that we’ll have a good chance. Doubles is good for the reflexes and movement. Once we’re finished here, hopefully on Sunday, I’ll get back to singles and see how that goes.” He finishes by saying: “She’s the boss.” She certainly is. What a player.
Murray/Williams beat Martin/Atawo 7-5, 6-3!
Second set: *Murray/Williams 7-5, 6-3 Martin/Atawo (*denotes server) Murray and Williams advance to the third round, where they’ll face the No 1 seeds! What a lot of fun. Murray double-faults at 30-0 up and needs a word from Serena to put him right. He also needs Serena to bring up match point with some wonderful reaction volleys at the net. He doesn’t let his partner down thereafter, mind, hammering an ace home to win the match. Murray was good but Serena was sensational.
Second set: Murray/Williams 7-5, 5-3 Martin/Atawo*(*denotes server) Serena jumps on Atawo’s serve with her umpteenth fizzed return to set the tone in this game. And there’s then a ludicrously entertaining doubles rally in which arms whiz around in the cartoon style before Atawo sends Serena scuttling across court in vain. A couple of fine returns from, Serena and then Murray, bring up deuce. Some to-ing and fro-ing ensues before Martin buries two volleys at the net to leave it up to Murray to serve for the match.
Second set: *Murray/Williams 7-5, 5-2 Martin/Atawo (*denotes server) Serena holds to love thanks to a couple of fierce kick serves to prevent Martin and Otawo getting a sniff on her second serve. Serena’s looked a cut above everybody else, Murray included but she is deep into a singles tournament now and is completely in the zone. Murray understandably looks a little rusty.
Second set: Murray/Williams 7-5, 4-2 Martin/Atawo* (*denotes server) There’s some discussion about whether Murray and Williams are the best returners of serve the doubles game has ver seen. Serena has been on fire against Martin. Murray has not got into his groove just yet but there have been glimpses that his fast hands could get going soon. It’s a comfortable hold to 15 for the doubles specialists, though. Serena was a bit wild with her returns there.
Second set: *Murray/Williams 7-5, 4-1 Martin/Atawo (*denotes server) Murray holds to love. It’s his most comfortable service game of the match. He sees it out with a booming ace down the middle and is given a fist-bump by Serena for his efforts.
Second set: Murray/Williams 7-5, 3-1 Martin/Atawo* (*denotes server) After a battling singles performance this afternoon where she didn’t look her best, I think Serena is enjoying being able to cut loose a bit in this match. She’s going for everything. The specialists hold, though, with a breakdown in communication from Murray and Serena allowing Atawo a free shot between the two of them to win the game.
Second set: *Murray/Williams 7-5, 3-0 Martin/Atawo (*denotes server) Murray’s a little slow getting back to an Atawo lob and quickly adjusts so that Serena can hammer a forehand behind him. But she’s a little distracted by Murray and goes wide. They trail 0-30 but get back into it quickly thanks to a couple of Williams aces, though. She’s been ace herself in this match. When Murray gets going they’ll be even more of a daunting duo. Murray wins the game with a delicious feather-fingered backhand drop-shot at the net. They may wrap this match up reasonably quickly.
Second set: Murray/Williams 7-5, 2-0 Martin/Atawo* (*denotes server) Serena’s definitely doing the best work, timing her returns perfectly to help bring up two break points. She’s putting every ounce of sweat into this match. Steady on Serena, you’ve got a singles semi-final coming up. The specialists save both break points and a huge looping forehand from Martin helps brings up game point, but Serena is putting on a show here. She whips another backhand across court at an implausible angle and then jumps all over a Martin second serve with a vicious winner down the line. That was gold plated. Martin gets the specialists out of jail with a lovely open-faced volley that leaves Serena stretching in vain. Murray ups his game with a fizzing return and then Atawo makes a mistake, hitting a backhand that was going out into mid-court where Murray gobbles it up. It’s Serena again who brings up yet another break point with some more brilliance – and this time Martin errs to bring up an early break fro the dream duo.
Second set: *Murray/Williams 7-5, 1-0 Martin/Atawo (*denotes server) Murray and Serena are immediately put on the back foot in the opening game of the second set. They’re made to save two break points on their way to a battling hold, which Murray seals with a fierce first serve that goes straight through Atawo.
Murray and Williams win the first set 7-5!
First set: Murray/Williams 7-5 Martin/Atawo* (*denotes server) This time they do get the break! 0-15, 15-15, 15-30 thanks to a rare error at the net from Martin. The big man makes up for it in the next point, levelling the game at 30-30 but Serena roars as she brings up set point with a fierce return off an undercooked Atawo first serve. But it’s Murray who lets the dream duo down, hitting a woeful backhand low into the net. Serena goes after the next point and brings up another set point – and finishes it off with a wonderful whipped forehand to send Centre Court into raptures. She won that for Murray there. What a competitor!
First set: *Murray/Williams 6-5 Martin/Atawo (*denotes server) Martin and Atawo had a bye in the first round so this is their opening match. They don’t look particularly rusty. Serena has an up and down game on her serve, dumping a shot into the net but for the most part serving powerfully and accurately and forcing errors from her opponents. It’s a hold to 30. Can the dream duo get over the line and break in the next game? They’ve got close in the last two.
First set: Murray/Williams 5-5 Martin/Atawo* (*denotes server) A classic Murray backhand down the line and then a vintage Serena return from a Martin first serve give the dream duo a sniff at 15-30. Atawo’s overhead leaves Serena fumbling at her feet, though, and it’s 30-30. Serena gets her shot-choice wrong on the next point, finding the net as she tries to go across court. And then Murray pounces at the net to get it back to deuce. Martin rams a 138mph serve at Serena, which she gobbles up! Incredible. It’s set point, but Murray can’t capitalise at the net. Serena wanders over and appears to give her younger partner a bit of advice. The game then swings both ways and the specialists hang in the game thanks to a back of the court smash from Martin, who sends Atawo running for cover in front of him.
First set: *Murray/Williams 5-4 Martin/Atawo (*denotes server) There’s a bit of pressure on Murray’s serve at 15-30 after a bit of a mix-up when Murray tries to lob from the back of the court when Serena was better placed at the net to fire a forehand down. A good serve and and a strong volley at the net by Serena get them to game point and then Serena sees it out, holding to 30. The specialists will have to serve to stay in the set.
First set: Murray/Williams 4-4 Martin/Atawo* (*denotes server) What an entertaining game this is. Murray pounces on an Atawo second serve at 15-0 to bring the score back to 15-15. It was a fierce drive that Martin could not get near. And then Atawo wobbles a little, double-faulting, before Murray reads Martin’s movement and passes him on the inside and down the line. That was like sending a goalkeeper the wrong way on a penalty. Two break points. Both saved, the second with a classic backhand volley from Martin at the net after a strong first serve from Atawo. And then Martin shows incredible control with a backhand volley at the net after Serena clattered a ball in at him. His wrists must still be vibrating after that! Serena roars as she jumps on a second serve to bring up another break, and then Murray tries to lob Atawo but he’s millimetres wide. It’s deuce again. Murray has success on Atawo’s second serve and then Serena attacks it but Martin is looming again, blocking off the angles. The specialists hold on after being given a stern examination.
First set: *Murray/Williams 4-3 Martin/Atawo (*denotes server) Serena’s service game is strong but the experience of the doubles specialists is coming to the fore. Atawo’s awareness of the greater width of the court helps them to bring the game back to 30-30. They’re the 14th seeds, after all. But Murray is deft at the net and the singles greats hold to 30.
First set: *Murray/Williams 3-3 Martin/Atawo* (*denotes server) Serena’s eyes light up as Martin hits a poor second serve, which Serena whips over the net at Atawo’s despairing racket. Murray mishits a return and apologises to Serena and then Atawo fires a difficult overhead volley at Serena’s feet to take a 401-5 lead. There’s then a wonderful rally, with Murray having no right to get a Martin smash back before Serena showed deft hands to go toe to toe with Atawo, coming off second best after some rapid ping-pong hither and thither at the net. The specialists hold to 15.
First set: *Murray/Williams 3-2 Martin/Atawo (*denotes server) Murray double-faults at 30-0. Oh Andy! It like pre-grand slam-winning Murray all over again. There are no alarms and no surprises after that, mind. It’s an easy hold to 15, with the understanding between the two starting to improve.
First set: Murray/Williams 2-2 Martin/Atawo* (*denotes server) When Martin is at the net he seems to cover the whole of it. He’s huge! With Atawo serving, he blocks off all the angles and helps bring about an easy hold to love. Atawo’s service game was solid there. She comes off better out of a ping-pong rally at the net with Murray too, which Martin finishes off with an overhead that Serena can’t dig out.
First set: *Murray/Williams 2-1 Martin/Atawo (*denotes server) It’s Serena’s turn to serve. She punches a couple of accurate serves into the body of first Martin, and then Atawo. 30-0. Martin catches Murray out to bring the game back to 30-15 but a hefty first serve by Serena forces an error and then Murray pounces at the net to give Willliams/Murray the lead. Serena is looking remarkably fresh considering she had a gruelling two-hour match a couple of hours ago. She’s 37, too.
First set: Murray/Williams 1-1 Martin/Atawo* (*denotes server) It’s an easy hold to 15 for Martin/Atawo, who has some success out wide.
First set: *Murray/Williams 1-0 Martin/Atawo (*denotes server) Well, that sandwich will take some time to digest. It was gone in 60 seconds! Anyway, to the tennis. It looks like it’s going to be an easy-as-you-like hold for the power-partners of singles tennis against the doubles specialists but the specialists bring it back to 40-30 before Serena blasts a ball at the body of the 6ft 7in Martin to win the game. She apologises. But there’s no need. It’s part of the game isn’t it?
The players are out, Gregg has wolfed down a sandwich, he’s back. Enjoy the match!
Remember this is Serena’s second match of the day. She’s already played three sets today, coming through a tough quarter-final against Alison Riske.
That finished less than three hours ago, here’s how Serena spent her downtime, with her daughter Olympia.
Hi everyone, Michael Butler here, just as Gregg catches his breath. As one Brit departs from Centre Court, another one arrives: Andy Murray walks out with his mixed doubles partner Serena Williams. They are up against Raquel Atawo and Fabrice Martin in the second round.
I’m just going to grab a drink before Andy Murray and Serena Williams steal the show on Centre Court. Back shortly.
What a fascinating sport tennis is. The way momentum can swing so quickly and so dramatically is captivating. Konta was strolling at 4-1 up in the first set. And then at the first sign of resistance she crumbled. Psychologically, she never got it back. Anyway, here’s the moment Strycova sealed her place in the Wimbledon semi-final against Serena Williams.
Strycova, who is rumoured to be retiring at the end of the season, speaks:
It sounds crazy. I can’t really believe it. I’m extremely happy. My voice is still shaking. I still have doubles so I have to go and play! I tried to mix it a little bit and then tried to get into the match and then I grew in confidence. This is one of the best matches I have played before. It’s a great to play her [Serena]. I can’t wait.”
She seemed dazzled in the aftermath of that match. Understandable I suppose. She was quite brilliant and she now gets a shot at a Wimbledon final against the greatest female player of them all.
Strycova beats Konta 7-6 (5), 6-1!
Second set: *Strycova 7-6 (5), 5-1 Konta (*denotes server) Strycova is in her first-ever grand slam semi-final! She begins the game looking very nervy. Her first-ever grand slam semi-final is within her grasp. Butterflies are understandable. She trails 0-30 but battles back with a lovely dampened forehand volley and then relies on Konta to make two errors, the second a wated backhand that drifts well out at the back. Match point! Konta goes long with her 34th unforced error. What a moment for the 33-year-old Czech! And what gut-wrenching disappointment for Konta. Strycova will never play better (she made only nine unforced errors!) but Konta lost the run of herself. Her shots were wild. What a sickener.
Second set: Strycova 7-6 (5), 5-1 Konta* (*denotes server) Strycova breaks! Konta looks like she’s going to hold comfortably as she races to 40-0 before letting Strycova back in with two mistimes forehands in a row and then a lax approach from the back of the court, which lets Strycova smash an overhead winner away to get the game back to deuce. Konta tries a drop shot from the back of the court, but Strycova chases it down like a playful puppy and puts it away. Konta survives one beak point with a sublime backhand volley but disappointment is creased across her face as she gives away another break away, this time with a double-fault. To add insult to injury, Konta slashes an easy swing volley long. Strycovic will serve for the match.
Second set: *Strycova 7-6 (5), 4-1 Konta (*denotes server) Strycovic’s net-craft has been supreme. A drop shot lures Konta to the net, where she can’t pass Strycovic, who lobs the bamboozled Brit with a backhand volley. Konta battles back into the game, though, leaving Strycova on the turf with a disguised forehand but the Czech sees it out thanks to a fortunate net cord at 40-30.
Second set: Strycova 7-6 (5), 3-1 Konta* (*denotes server) Konta holds to 15 with a much stronger service game. She’s got a lowly 58% first-serve percentage in this match compared to Strycovic’s 72%. She finishes on an ace. She needed that.
Second set: *Strycova 7-6 (5), 3-0 Konta (*denotes server) Well, this performance by Strycova makes it clear why Konta had such trouble against her when they met and she lost in straight sets in the Pan Pacific Open in 2017. Her mobility and low returns are causing Konta all manner of problems. It’s a hold to 15 for the 33-year-old Czech who looks like she is having the time of her life.
Second set: Strycova 7-6 (5), 2-0 Konta* (*denotes server) 0-15, 0-30, 0-40. Oh dear. Konta looks rattled. A double backhand down the line saves one break point but an overhit cross-court backhand leaves hr staring into the middle distance. Strycova breaks. Is she staring at a defeat?
Second set: *Strycova 7-6 (5), 1-0 Konta (*denotes server) Konta puts pressure on the Czech’s serve, profiting from a couple of handy returns, but the Czech is proving very aggressive, scurrying into the net and using her doubles skills to her advantage. One such visit to the net leaves Konta static after the Brit had tried a drop shot to no avail. She holds serve to 30.
Strycova wins the first set against Konta 7-6 (5)!
Strycova takes the tie break 7-5 – and the set! Strycova wins a wonderful point while 5-4 down in the tie-break, ghosting into the net to land a backhand drop shot just when it appeared Konta was getting on top. And then Konta adds to her tally of unforced errors (now up at 22!) and Strycova takes the set. Konta will be furious with herself. She was cruising at 4-1 up in the set and then got careless. Strycova has grown in confidence as a result.
Svitolina beats Muchova 7-5, 6-4!
The eighth seed will face the seventh seed, Halep, in the semi-final. Muchova’s exertions yesterday really did catch up with her.
First set tie-break: Strycova 3-3 Konta Konta loses the mini-break immediately and then comes unstuck further as she misses an easy forehand volley at the net. But she battles back with a solid forehand. There are five mini-breaks in the first six points. Nerves? You bet. The players switch ends. Which way will this go?
First set: *Strycova 6-6 Konta (*denotes server) Both players spray wild forehands wide in a messy opening to the game but Strycova booms a serve right down the middle that Konta can only get the frame of her racket too. A delicious forehand drop-shot leaves Konta scrambling forlornly befiore Konta goes long again (her 20th unforced error) to give her opponent the game. Tie-break!
First set: Strycova 5-6 Konta* (*denotes server) Konta is really struggling with the Strycova forehand return, partly because she’s not getting her first serve in enough and is allowing the Czech to take control of rallies. It’s a battling hold to 15 for the British N0 1, though. A much-needed one. Strycova will again serve to stay in the set.
First set: *Strycova 5-5 Konta (*denotes server) Strycova is enjoying this. She does the double-backhand drop-shot trick again to go 30-0 up and then bangs down a big serve to bring up 40-0. She holds to love with little fuss. Over to you, Jo.
First set: Strycova 4-5 Konta* (*denotes server) This is an important win for Konta. She needs a strong service game but doesn’t have one. She struggles to deal with a Strycova return that lands at her feet and forces her to dump into the net at 30-15. And then Strycova turns the game her way with an outrageous double-handed backhand drop-shot from the back of the court to bring the game to 30-30. Another unforced error from Konta gives Strycova a break point, but the British No 1 shows nice touch herself, making Strycova scramble and go long before winning a long rally to give her a vital game. Strycova will have to serve to stay in the set.
First set: *Strycova 4-4 Konta (*denotes server) Konta’s return of serve is still proving to be a good weapon, though. It helps set up a forehand smash at 15-15. Strycova then has a wobble, double-faulting and giving Konta a scent of blood at 15-30. But three more unforced errors from Konta let the Czech get away with it and we’re all square.
Over on No 1 Court it’s 2-2 and on serve in the second set between Svitolina and Muchova.
First set: Strycova 3-4 Konta* (*denotes server) Strycova breaks Konta! Despite making Strycova do all the running with some intelligent shot selection, one point of concern is that Konta has tried to be too accurate when landing her winners. She misses two in a row at 30-15 and Strycova has a break point at 30-40. Konta goes long and we’re back on serve. Well, it was looking too comfortable. We now have a match on our hands.
First set: *Strycova 2-4 Konta (*denotes server) Konta is using the sliced backhand well to slow down rallies and give herself a chance to find position after the Strycova serve. She puts pressure on the Strycova serve at 30-30 with this tactic but the Czech finds an ace and a serve-volley winner to take the game.
First set: Strycova 1-4 Konta* (*denotes server) Konta varies her serve, going down the middle and then out wide. She hammers a mid-court forehand away to take a 30-0 lead. Strycova gets back into it at 30-15 but Konta smashes another big serve in that sets up another easy winner. She takes it to 40-15 and then sees it out from the back of the court. Konta has been the underdog in her last two matches but she’s the favourite here and living up to her billing with assured maturity.
First set: *Strycova 1-3 Konta (*denotes server) It’s a comfortable hold to love for the Czech, who settles her nerves and gets on the board.
First set: Strycova 0-3 Konta* (*denotes server) Well, this is the perfect start for the British No 1. She looks absolutely in the zone as she holds to 30 before bounding away to her chair.
Svitolina wins the first set against Muchova 7-5
Muchova looked to be running away with the first set but the eighth seed has finally got her tactics right and worked her battling opponent out. She’s taken the set in 48 tough minutes.
First set: *Strycova 0-2 Konta (*denotes server) There’s nothing nervy about Konta’s return of serve. She zips a couple of returns back at Strycova’s feet and puts pressure on her serve immediately. Strycova battles back to 30-30 but a double-fault gives Konta a break point. She can’t take it, overhitting a forehand from mid-court that she really should have made. Konta whips a vicious return back at Strycova to give herself another break point, which she takes, with another big return that Strycova can’t handle.
First set: Strycova 0-1 Konta* (*denotes server) It’s a nervy start by Konta. She comes into the net to take the first point of the match with a lovely little dampened forehand volley winner. She then outlasts her opponent in a baseline rally but then three overhit forehands in a row give Strycova a break point. Konta stays mentally strong and fires a backhand-winner across court. Deuce. Strycova goes long and then Konta gets the game on the board as Strycova dumps a shot into the net. That was an important first game for the British No 1.
Here’s more on history being made, fittingly on Court No 12.
Tok! Tok! Tok! Jo Konta and Barbara Strycova are out on Centre Court and knocking up. We’ll have action soon.
With Muchova 5-3 up and serving for the first set, Svitolina ups her game and breaks back. It’s back on serve at 4-5.
Muchova and Pliskova went close yesterday but we now have our first 12-12 tie-break at Wimbledon. Kontinen and Peers have won it, by the way. So they’re into the fourth round.
Perhaps Muchova is not feeling the after-effects of yesterday’s exertions. The Czech is the first to break. She then holds to love to take a commanding 4-1 lead in the first set. If she can get this done nice and early she can put her feet up for a day and a half. Muchova is the lowest-ranked player left in the tournament (world No 68). Her run to the last eight has been rather lost among the remarkable story that was Coco Gauff’s journey to the last 16.
“Here’s a moniker for Serena Williams and Andy Murray,” writes Samantha Rajasingham. “The Andy Williams Show! Though, I’m not sure either would be happy or understand that. So old timey … ” Moon River anyone?
Here’s our report on Serena Williams’s battling win over Alison Riske:
Jo Konta will be on Centre Court in around 20 minutes’ time as she bids to set up a semi-final against Serena Williams. She faces the unseeded Barbora Strycova, who beat Konta the last time they met in 2017. Over on No 1 Court Svitolina and Muchova have just got under way. It’s 1-1 and on serve. Muchova, of course, had a mammoth match against Karolina Pliskova yesterday, winning 4-6, 7-5, 13-11. She may have a little more lactic acid in her legs as she runs around this afternoon.
Serena Williams beats Alison Riske 6-4, 4-6, 6-3!
It’s taken exactly two hours but Serena Williams is a Wimbledon semi-finalist again! She does it with a thumping ace down the middle. Riske played her part brilliantly. She said she was “ready for war” and she battled as though her life depended on it. She’s given a huge ovation as she leaves Centre Court - and quite rightly too. What a warrior. She never gave up and pushed her illustrious opponent to the limit. But Serena’s class and winning mentality shone through in the end. More tennis like that please.
Serena breaks Riske! What a match this is! The 23-times grand slam winner raises her game and fires home a fizzing return followed by a ferocious cross-court forehand to bring up two break points. Riske saves the first with a huge first serve that Serena can only dump into the net, then she does it again – but this time on her second serve. What pluck! That’s nine beak points she has saved this match. She’s soon facing a 10th – and she saves it again! Deuce. Serena falls awkwardly as she is sent racing side to side but recovers to show lovely hands at the net, with a sliced forehand drop shot that sets up an easy winner. And then she repeats the trick to bring up another break point. And this time Riske goes for her second serve and is not rewarded for her risky approach (sorry). Serena leads 5-3 and will serve for the match.
Serena holds to love. It’s 4-3 and on serve. Over to you Riske.
Serena Williams has made 26 unforced errors – that’s poor. But she’s also rattled down 39 winners, which is pretty impressive. And a couple of those winners – one, a cross-court backhand with sparkle-dust on it – puts pressure on Riske’s service game. But the stubborn unseeded American will not be moved despite being taken to deuce. She takes the game with a delightful back-hand winner down the line, her 24th winner of the match. It’s 3-3.
Riske is not going away! She breaks back and it’s 2-3 with Riske to serve. Serena is shouting “come on!” after every point – she knows she’s not at her best and is trying to gee herself up at every opportunity. Riske is finding the back of the court with unerring accuracy and causing Serena a problem. Riske steams in on a mid-court shot by Serena and whips it across court to get back on serve. The Centre Court crowd roar – they’re loving this. What a match!
Serena Williams breaks again! A double-fault at 0-15 gives Serena a scent of blood. She tries to rush her forehands, though, and lets Riske back into it at 30-30. They trade points and we’re up at deuce. Serena’s timing is off, though. She wallops a forehand into the net from mid-court, catching it too soon. Then it’s Riske’s turn to wobble, putting too much juice on a forehand down the line and then finding the net tape to give Serena another break point. Riske double-faults by going for it! Oh dear. That could be costly. Riske took a risk and there was no reward. Sorry. Serena Williams leads 3-1 and is a break up.
Serena holds to 15 with a huge 119mph ace! Have that Alison! It’s 2-1 and now it’s over to Riske to respond. This is a big game for her.
Serena Williams breaks back immediately! A waft of her forehand sends a forehand fizzing past Riske and on to the boards at the back of Centre Court. The thumping sound it makes is menacing. Perhaps Serena has found the fire in her belly that she will need to battle past her feisty opponent and into the semi-finals. It’s 1-1 in the decider.
Halep beats Zhang 7-6 (4), 6-1
Zhang burned brightly but it was too early in the match. The Romanian had to battle so hard to win the first set – but winning it appeared to break her Chinese opponent, who faded like a tired firefly in the second set.
Riske breaks Serena in the first game of the deciding set! She couldn’t could she? Riske is reaching everything and making Serena look static. Williams needs to wake up, fast!
Halep is 5-1 up against Zhang over on No 1 Court. I would never have guessed the Riske-Serena match would have lasted longer. Tennis, huh?
Riske wins the second set against Serena Williams 6-4!
Riske holds to love. We’ll have a deciding set. The unseeded American has raised her game and done what she has done so well this year: come back from a set down. Can she cause a huge upset and see the match out? We’ll soon see.
Riske has only gone and broken Serena! She pounces on a fiercely struck second serve and then rushes into the net, picking up a lovely half-volley and tickling it over the net. She roars at the crowd. And why not? She leads 5-4 and will serve for the second set.
And now Halep does turn the screw, making Zhang hit long with a deep forehand and then piling the pressure on to break her. It’s 3-1 with Halep to serve in the second set. That was a big break.
Riske holds to 15 and must now put everything into this next game to try and break Serena. She knows she’s running out of chances to do something special.
Serena is made to battle to hold against Riske, who takes the game to deuce. It’s 4-3 and on serve in the second set.
Has Halep rattled Zhang? Not yet, although at moments in the second game of the second set it looks that way. The Romanian holds serve and senses there is an opportunity to hurry her opponent, who slashes a couple of forehands wide. But, showing great composure, the Chinese world No 50, cleverly chooses to stay in rallies until the opportunity to win them is there. She takes the second game and it’s 1-1.
Serena holds and Riske follows suit. It’s 3-3 and the unseeded American varied her game a little there, winning a point with a deliciously impudent drop shot. It’s not a bad tactic.
Halep wins the first set against Zhang 7-6 (4)!
The Romanian was 4-1 down in that first set but she has battled back brilliantly and found a way to win it. She had to snoop around in her locker for it, but she found some extra zip in her step when it mattered and piled the pressure on Zhang’s serve, winning the set with a mid-court cross-court forehand that was too hot for Zhang to handle (and she’s handled most things in this match so far).
Riske wins a 13-shot rally after arrowing a backhand down the line that Serena can’t get a full racket head to. It brings up game point and Riske holds to 15. It’s 2-2.
It’s 4-3 and on serve in the first set tie-break between Halep and Zhang, who has just whipped a delicious forehand over the net to get a mini-break back against the Romanian.
Williams roars “come on!” after booming an ace down to lead 2-1 in the second set on Centre Court. Riske took the game to deuce by again showing quick hands to adjust and send Serena’s serves straight back down her throat. She won’t go quietly.
Zhang has the chance to bring up a break point put hurries a forehand and misses wildly to the right. Halep holds and it’s a tie-break on No 1 Court. It’s hard to predict how it will go. Both are matching each others’ court craft and playing some lovely stuff. After a slow start, Halep has done well to finally read her opponent.
Riske goes toe-to-toe with Serena and holds to 30 on Centre Court. The crowd are really taking to the unseeded American, who is making a fine match out of what could have been a walkover. It’s 1-1.
Halep holds her serve to make it 5-5 but then Zhang races through her service game and heap the pressure on Halep once more. It’s 6-5 to Zhang, who will have a spring in her step as she attempts to take this first set.
Riske continues to be a pesky menace, making Serena scramble around in her first service game of the second set and dump a couple of shots into the net. Serena finds a couple of big serves to convert deuce into a 1-0 second-set lead, though.
Halep and Zhang are having some wonderful rallies over on No 1 Court. The Romanian’s creative juices are beginning to flow now, though, and she’s got her opponent on the back foot at last. Zhang holds to lead 5-4, meaning Halep has to serve to stay in the set.
Serena Williams wins first set against Riske 6-4!
Well, Serena was broken twice in that set and was far from her best but still showed impeccable timing to raise her game and fire some fierce returns of serve back at Riske when it really mattered. She clenches her fist and punches the air. She knows she was tested there. And she came through it.
Serena holds to love and Riske is now serving to stay in the set. She’ll have to stay composed here. It’s moments like these when elite players find that 10% more to turn a match in their favour.
Halep breaks Zhang! For the first time in this match the Romanian is back on serve and looks like she may finally have worked out her opponent. It’s 4-3 to Zhang with Halep to serve.
Serena gives out a huge roar as she watches Riske stretch and overhit a backhand. The reason for such emotion is that she’s broken back. It’s 4-4 and what a ding-dong battle this is. Riske said she was “ready for war” today. Perhaps Serena wasn’t. Well, not until now, anyway.
Halep saves four break points to hold serve against Zhang and take the score to 4-2. The seventh seed is really struggling to find a way past Zhang, who is chasing every shot down like it’s match point.
Riske breaks Serena Williams again! She’s having a wonderful time out there, using the power of the Serena serve quite magnificently to return fire and get her nose in front once more. That’s 4-3!
Serena breaks back! She looks like she’s had enough of being shown up. She jumps on Riske’s serve and comes to the net to put a volley away to get her nose in front. A fizzing forehand brings up a break point but Riske battles her way back to deuce. Serena finds a little extra zip in her step and sends Riske scurrying one way then the other before benefitting from a net cord and stretching to seal the game with a delicate volley into open court. It’s 3-3!
Riske looks every inch like she’s revelling in this rare appearance under the spotlight. She holds her serve without giving Serena a sniff. She’s not going to a brush over. Serena reasserts her authority in her next service game, though. It’s 3-2 but Riske is still a break up.
Over on No1 Court, Zhang is playing quite brilliantly and giving Halep the runaround. She holds her serve to bring the score up to 3-0 and then makes her opponent battle through deuce to win her first game. Halep has a fight on her hands, here. Zhang is a break up and 3-1 to the good.
And now Riske breaks Williams! Having battled gamely with Serena, using the power of her opponent’s groundstrokes to counter-punch intelligently, she takes the game to deuce and an overhit forehand by Serena brings up a break point. Riske jumps on the opportunity, scrambling back a return that lands at Serena’s feet before she can adjust them. The result is a weak backhand that is dumped into the net. It’s 2-1 to Riske! Maybe we could have a few surprises this afternoon, after all.
It’s not been the best start for the No 7 seed Halep. She’s been broken by Zhang in her first service game and trails 2-0.
Riske’s serve is pounced on by Williams, who takes a couple of points off her. This causes the unseeded American to switch tactics and curl a serve into Serena’s body and then a sliding one out wide. Both are successful and catch Serena out somewhat. Riske wins her first service game. 1-1.
Serena Williams serves first against Riske. It’s not the most comfortable hold in the world but a booming forehand giving Riske a taste of the power she’ll have to resist this afternoon and she gets there, holding to 30. Meanwhile, on No 1 Court, Zhang holds serve to get a game on the board and a little confidence.
The players are out on court and ready to warm up. Serena Williams has been talking before her match. She says she has been inspired by the USA women’s football team’s World Cup win and finds them an inspiring group of sportswomen. She also says her daughter is doing nothing but play football at the moment and has taken no interest in tennis. Oh dear! There’s still time, Serena, but football’s a fine sport too.
Alison Riske has won 14 of her 15 matches on grass in 2019. That’s some record. She’s also come back from a set down to win on seven occasions, too. She’ll need to start quickly against Serena Williams, though. There’s no easing into a match against a 23-times grand slam winner, though.
Dan wants some surprises this afternoon. Will we get them? I’m not so sure.
Weatherwatch! It’s going to be comforting 21c for most of the day at SW19 but it is a bit cloudy and there’s a hint of rain in the air. Hopefully it won’t materialise and we’ll have unhindered tennis, but there is a chance of a shower or two.
It’s women’s quarter-finals day – and the order of play looks like this:
Centre Court (1pm BST start)
Alison Riske (USA) v Serena Williams (USA) 11
Barbora Strycova (CZE) v Jo Konta (GBR) 19
No 1 Court (1pm BST start)
Simona Halep (ROU) 7 v Shuai Zhang (CHN)
Elina Svitolina (UKR) 8 v Karolina Muchova (CZE)
I will also stick around for Andy Murray and Serena Williams v Fabrice Martin 14 and Raquel Atawo 14 in the second round of the mixed doubles too. They’re scheduled to be on Centre Court once the quarter-finals are done and dusted. I’ll do my best not to use the nickname “Murena” too, because it’s daft.
As for the women’s quarter-finals, it’s hard to see Riske upsetting the odds for a second day in a row when she faces Serena Williams, although she appears to be relishing the impending battle. “I’m ready for a war,” she roared after her victory over Barty. “[Serena is] the greatest athlete I think that’s ever been on the women’s side. It’s going to be a huge challenge but I’m really looking forward to it.”
I expect Halep to have too much court-craft for Zhang when they get under way on No 1 Court and Svitolina will surely be too fresh for Karolina Muchova, who came through an epic match against the No 3 seed, Karolina Pliskova, winning 4-6, 7-5, 13-11! in three hours 17 minutes yesterday.
And what of Konta? You’d expect her to beat the world No 54 Strycova but it’s not always easy to predict how the British No 1 will play. The last time these two players met, in the last 16 of the Pan Pacific Open in 2017, Konta lost in straight sets. Both players had to battle for over two hours to get to the quarter-finals so their energy levels should be similar, though having the roar of Centre Court fully behind her, and the prospect of taking on the greatest women’s player of them all in a Wimbledon semi-final, must surely give the No 19 seed the edge. I’ll be back shortly.
Catch up on Konta’s battle with Kvitova here while you wait: