Riske tops No. 1 Barty
to reach Wimbledon quarters
Arthur Kapetanakis | July 8, 2019
Alison Riske made sure that Wimbledon’s Manic Monday lived up to its name, as she opened play by taking out Ashleigh Barty, the world No. 1, on Court 2 in three sets.
With the entirety of the men’s and women’s fourth-round slate in action, five Americans took to the court, including an all-American men’s matchup. By day’s end, Serena Williams and Sam Querrey joined Riske in the quarters.
SW19 sensation Coco Gauff saw her dream run come to an end at the hands of Simona Halep, despite another impressive performance in front of a hugely supportive British crowd.
While Gauff fell to the 2018 year-end No. 1, Riske completed a come-from-behind upset of the current WTA frontrunner, halting the French Open (and Birmingham Classic) champ’s 15-match win streak and bid for back-to-back major titles.
Riske, who flashed her grass-court potential by winning a title in the Netherlands last month, has now won four three-setters in her four matches on the London grass. Against Barty, a pristine 30-15 winner-to-error count and a 100-percent conversion rate on her four break points planted the seeds of the upset.
The 29-year-old spoke after the match about her comfort level on the grass and her willingness to battle throughout each match of her quarterfinal run. She has faced three seeded opponents thus far in London, and has dropped the opening set on all three occassions, including in Round 1 against No. 22 Donna Vekic and Round 3 opposite No. 13 Belinda Bencic.
Against the Aussie, it was an attacking game plan that helped her battle back; she ended the encounter with 20 net points won.
“I’m just looking to come forward as much as I can, and I think when I’m doing that, my best tennis comes from that,” she said in her presser.
It is a first career Slam quarterfinal for Riske, whose previous best result was a fourth-round run at the 2013 US Open.
“I am so incredibly excited," she beamed. "I am just over the moon, so happy, and I’m looking to keep it going.”
Currently ranked No. 55 in the WTA Rankings, Riske reached a career high of No. 36 in May 2017. Her quarterfinal run will bring her close to that number, with another victory guaranteeing a new career high.
That victory will have to come against Serena Williams. It will be the first career meeting for the former doubles partners, and it guarantees that an American woman will reach the Wimbledon semis for a fifth straight year.
Williams, a Wimbledon finalist a year ago, dominated Carla Suarez Navarro, 6-2, 6-2, sealing the deal with a powerful serve out wide on the ad court. She has now won eight of her nine sets on the fortnight, and appears to be peaking for the home stretch, as she has done so often in the past.
In her post-match press conference, Williams credited her strong form to her rust wearing off—prior to Wimbledon, she had only played three matches (all at the French Open) since retiring from the Italian Open in May with a left-knee injury—and a clean bill of health.
“Most of all, I feel confident that I can actually move and I don’t have to go for winners so soon because I’m in pain,” she explained. “Now I can just play my game and hit shots and not have to worry about anything else. It’s good when your mind is clear and you can just play.”
Williams will also take the court for mixed doubles action on Tuesday, alongside Andy Murray. The illustrious pairing won their opening-round match on Saturday in straight sets and can advance to the last 16 with another victory.
On the men’s side, Querrey knocked off compatriot Tennys Sandgren, 6-4, 6-7, 7-6, 7-6, to book a place against No. 3 seed (and world No. 2) Rafael Nadal. The 2017 Wimbledon semifinalist’s opening-set break was the only one of the match, with each man winning at least 80 percent of points on first serve. Querrey hit 25 aces and saved all four break points he faced in the all-American affair.
The men will pick up again on Wednesday, while the women’s quarters are slated for Tuesday, led by the Serena-Riske battle, first on Centre Court.