Paolini advances to Wimbledon quarterfinals after Keys retires with leg injury

Paolini advances to Wimbledon quarterfinals after Keys retires with leg injury

French Open runner-up Jasmine Paolini reached her first Wimbledon quarterfinal after Madison Keys retired with a leg injury at 5-5 in the third set of their fourth-round match on Sunday. Keys had served for the match at 5-2 in the final set but began limping more noticeably and required a medical timeout after Paolini closed the gap to 5-4. With her left thigh taped, Keys attempted to serve for the match again but was broken, double-faulting on break point. She was visibly emotional, with her movement severely restricted.

Despite her efforts to continue, Keys eventually approached the net to inform the chair umpire that she was retiring after Paolini hit an ace for 15-15 in the final game. Paolini had won the first set 6-3, while Keys took the second set 7-6 (6). Keys was just two points away from victory when the score was deuce at 5-2.

“I’m so sorry for her. To end the match like this, it’s bad,” Paolini said in her on-court interview. “What can I say? We played a really good match. It was really tough. A lot of ups and downs. I’m feeling a little bit happy, but also sad for her. It’s not easy to win like that.”

Paolini is now the fifth Italian woman to reach the Wimbledon quarterfinals in the professional era and will aim to become the first to make the semifinals. She will face the winner of the match between No. 2 Coco Gauff and 19th-seeded Emma Navarro.

Keys was attempting to reach the last eight for the second consecutive year at the All England Club and the third time overall. Donna Vekic advanced to her first Wimbledon quarterfinal after defeating Paula Badosa 6-2, 1-6, 6-4 in a match interrupted several times by rain. Vekic will face New Zealand qualifier Lulu Sun, who defeated Great Britain’s Emma Raducanu 6-2, 5-7, 6-2.

In another fourth-round match, Croatia’s Donna Vekic defeated Spain’s Paula Badosa 6-2, 1-6, 6-4. Vekic, ranked No. 37 in the world, recorded four aces and 33 winners against No. 93 Badosa, who has been battling a back issue since the start of the 2023 season. Badosa had won consecutive matches just once in the first four months since returning to competition in January before playing at Wimbledon.

Vekic will play New Zealand qualifier Lulu Sun in the quarterfinals. Sun defeated Great Britain’s Emma Raducanu 6-2, 5-7, 6-2. Sun made 44 unforced errors while Raducanu had 21, but she also collected 52 winners to just 19 for her British opponent. Sun also broke Raducanu’s serve five times and won 23 of 28 points at the net.

“Oh, man, it was a great match against her,” Sun said in her post-match interview. “I really had to fight tooth and nail against her. I’m just incredibly … I don’t even have the words right now.”

In the men’s draw, Carlos Alcaraz continued to impress with a 6-3, 6-4, 1-6, 7-5 victory against No. 16 seed Ugo Humbert at Centre Court. The defending champion celebrated by raising his right index finger in a “No. 1” gesture and shouting “Vamos!” as thousands of spectators rose to salute him. Alcaraz, known for his remarkable ability to turn the impossible into the possible, has been breaking new ground time after time. He was the first teenager to reach No. 1 in the ATP rankings, and his recent French Open championship made him the youngest man to win Grand Slam titles on three surfaces: hard, grass, and clay courts.

Asked during his on-court interview how he’d describe the remarkable sequence against Humbert, Alcaraz offered a huge smile and responded: “Unbelievable, I guess. I just try to fight every point, every ball. It doesn’t matter what part of the court.”

Alcaraz will face No. 12 Tommy Paul in the quarterfinals, while Jannik Sinner, who advanced with a 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (9) win against No. 14 Ben Shelton, will go up against 2021 U.S. Open champion Daniil Medvedev. Sinner, who was bounced in last year’s Wimbledon semifinals by Novak Djokovic, earned his first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in January.

Paul reached his first quarterfinal at Wimbledon by using a 41-14 edge in winners to extend his unbeaten run to nine matches, all on grass, with a 6-2, 7-6 (3), 6-2 victory over Roberto Bautista Agut. Medvedev moved on when Grigor Dimitrov stopped playing because of a leg injury in the first set.

There was another mid-match retirement in a women’s fourth-round match: 2017 U.S. Open runner-up Madison Keys hurt her leg, took a medical timeout, and then briefly tried to continue. But she was wiping away tears as she walked to the net when she decided she needed to quit at 5-all in the third set against Jasmine Paolini.

“I’m so sorry for her. To end the match like this, it’s bad. What can I say?” Paolini said. “I’m feeling a little bit happy, but also sad for her. It’s not easy to win like that.”

Paolini next meets No. 19 Emma Navarro, who defeated reigning U.S. Open champion Coco Gauff 6-4, 6-3 in the day’s last match. The second-seeded Gauff’s exit comes the day after No. 1 Iga Swiatek lost, leaving just two of the top 10 seeded women in the bracket: No. 4 Elena Rybakina, the 2022 champion, and No. 7 Paolini.

The other women’s quarterfinal established Sunday is Lulu Sun against Donna Vekic. Sun eliminated 2021 U.S. Open champion Emma Raducanu 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 to become the first woman to get through qualifying and reach the Wimbledon quarterfinals since 2010, and the first woman from New Zealand to get that far at the All England Club in the Open era, which began in 1968. Vekic dropped to her knees at No. 2 Court after getting past Paula Badosa 6-2, 1-6, 6-4 in a match disrupted by three rain delays to make her first quarterfinal at the grass-court event in 10 appearances.

“I feel,” said Vekic, a 28-year-old from Croatia, “like I’m living my dream.”

Source: Associated Press, Field Level Media

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