Wimbledon 2022 Day 4: Swiatek, Nadal tested

 - Reem Abulleil

RG champs drop sets but advance to round three at SW19

Iga Swiatek Wimbledon 2022©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

Upsets, tight battles, tearful speeches and an emotional farewell... Thursday at the All England Club had it all.

Here's a look at some of the highlights from Day 4 of Wimbledon 2022.

Iga and Rafa survive scares

World No.1 Iga Swiatek matched the longest winning streak on the women’s tour since 1990 by clinching a 37th consecutive victory on Thursday; but it wasn’t without its drama.

The Polish two-time Roland-Garros champion had to fight tooth and nail to overcome Dutch lucky loser Lesley Pattinama Kerkhove 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 and move into the Wimbledon third round.

Swiatek fought for over two hours against the 30-year-old, who is ranked 138 in the world, owns just two Grand Slam main draw victories, but was competing like she belonged at the highest level of the sport.

“I would say the grass is pretty tricky for me. I'm not going to lie. I guess you can see that I'm not playing maybe as efficiently as on other surfaces,” said Swiatek, who next faces French world No.37 Alize Cornet.

“Basically my confidence is getting better overall. But this tournament is tricky and I'm still feeling out how to play the best game here.”

No.2 seed Rafael Nadal also had a tough time against Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis and admits there is a lot of room for improvement following his 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 victory over the world No.106.

The 22-time Grand Slam champion hit 39 unforced errors, against 35 winners, and could only convert 4/16 break point opportunities.

“Not the best start honestly and probably the best finish. I finished playing well,” said Nadal of the contest, which had a 50-minute interruption due to rain and the eventual closure of the Centre Court roof.

“The fourth set has been the level of tennis for me, important improvement. The rest of the things I have room to improve. But, yeah, it's a victory in four sets, spend three hours on the court again, that helps.”

Through to the Wimbledon third round for an 11th time, Nadal next faces Italian No.27 seed Lorenzo Sonego.

Upset of the day

Katie Boulter bt. Karolina Pliskova 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-4

A year after bowing out to Aryna Sabalenka in three sets on Wimbledon Centre Court, Katie Boulter returned to Wimbledon’s majestic stadium and did one better, ousting 2021 finalist and No.6 seed Karolina Pliskova in three close sets.

It was Boulter’s second victory over Pliskova in as many weeks and it earned her a place in a Grand Slam third round for the first time in her career.

The milestone win was made all the more emotional when Boulter dedicated it to her late grandmother Jill, who passed away earlier this week.

The British wildcard, whose career has been plagued by injuries, is ranked No.118 in the world and next faces Serena Williams’ conqueror, Harmony Tan.

“It was a very, very tough match for me from many aspects. Super proud of myself for getting through today against a player like that, having already played her last week. I also had expectations going out there,” said the 25-year-old from Leicester.

“I managed to control my emotions very well and played a really good match. Ultimately it came down to the wire, and I think I stayed really strong in the tough moments. I think that's why I got the win today.”

Blockbusters set

Roland-Garros runner-up Coco Gauff produced a clinical 6-2, 6-3 performance to ease past Romanian Mihaela Buzarnescu on Centre Court on Thursday to make a third consecutive third round at Wimbledon.

The 18-year-old booked an intriguing last-32 showdown with fellow American Amanda Anisimova, who has made it this far at the All England Club for the first time.

Another mouth-watering third round has been set as Nick Kyrgios and Stefanos Tsitsipas both claimed victories on Thursday.

Kyrgios was near flawless in his 85-minute straight-sets takedown of Queens finalist Filip Krajinovic, while No.4 seed Tsitsipas needed just over two hours to dismiss Australia’s Jordan Thompson.

Kyrgios beat Tsitsipas two weeks ago in Halle en route to the semi-finals.

Meanwhile, two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova beat Ana Bogdan 6-1, 7-6(5), despite squandering a 5-1 lead in the second set. The Eastbourne champion has now won seven consecutive matches and next takes on No.4 seed Paula Badosa.

“Actually I just practiced with her in Eastbourne before the tournament started. It was good practice. Pretty aggressive from both sides. That's what I going to for sure be ready for,” Kvitova said of Badosa.

“Big serves, great returns. She tries to play aggressively. But I think still that she likes more hard court and clay than the grass. Hopefully that could be my advantage a little bit.”

Flipkens bids farewell

Former world No.1 Simona Halep defeated Kirsten Flipkens 7-5, 6-4 in what was the last professional singles match of the Belgian’s career.

The 36-year-old Flipkens, whose best Grand Slam result came when she made the semis at Wimbledon in 2013, had announced this would be the final singles tournament of her career and was given a heart-warming standing ovation on No.2 Court following her defeat to Halep in the second round on Thursday.

“Definitely it's not about my match today, it's about her. I'm really happy I can play the last match against her,” said 2019 Wimbledon champion Halep of the crafty Belgian.

“We talked in Dubai about this moment; it was pretty emotional back then, but now it's double. She's a champion and I have learned many things from her. We played so many times.

“Before this match I was shaking, my coach knows, he can admit, because always it’s difficult to play against her. She’s cutting the rhythm, she’s playing amazing, she’s a great champion, she never gives up.

“So I really want to congratulate you for the whole life in tennis, we will miss you and good luck for the future. Holiday first, and then think about anything that you want. Thank you for everything.”

Hero of the day

Liam Broady

British wildcard Liam Broady is one of the most likeable personalities on tour – his social media banter with Andy Murray is not to be missed – and on Thursday he won the hearts of his home crowd with a heroic 6-2, 4-6, 0-6, 7-6(6), 6-1 success over No.12 seed Diego Schwartzman to reach the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time in his career.

Broady recovered from a bagel and a 0-3 deficit in the decider to complete the upset and stole the show with the best on-court interview of the Championships so far.

“Sometimes I struggle a little bit to put the ball in the court, but my heart's always there and with everyone out here today, it was incredible, and there was no way of giving up,” the 132nd-ranked lefty told the No.3 Court crowd.

When asked of losing 11 games in a row to Schwartzman during the match, Broady said: “I actually changed the tactics a little bit. I started to try and play really heavily into his forehand a little bit more. He was dominating with his backhand, I mean he’s done that against Rafa on the clay, so I mean he can do that against Liam Broady.”

With two five-set wins under his belt this week at SW19, Broady next takes on No.19 seed Alex de Minaur.

Tweet of the day

A current and future Wimbledon champion?

Quote of the day

“Today just wasn't my day. I feel like the universe just keeps testing me, but I'm not going to let up.”

– Bianca Andreescu after losing to No.17 seed Elena Rybakina 6-4, 7-6(5).