Wimbledon 2022 Day 7: A centenary to remember

Legends galore at SW19 on Middle Sunday as the tournament celebrated 100 years of Centre Court

Champions Wimbledon©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT
 - Reem Abulleil

The end of the long-standing tradition of Middle Sunday made way for new memories to be created on Wimbledon’s hallowed turf.

Historically a rest day, matches were officially on the schedule on Middle Sunday at the Championships and were preceded by a historic ceremony celebrating 100 years of Wimbledon Centre Court.

There was an air excitement from the early hours of the day as word got out some of the biggest stars in the sport, past and present, were set to attend the centenary celebrations.

Soon enough, eight-time champion Roger Federer was spotted around the grounds and he wasn’t the only one to make an appearance.

A goosebumps-inducing ceremony featured 26 former Wimbledon singles champions that won a combined 197 Grand Slam titles.

From Federer to Billie Jean King to Rod Laver to Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Venus Williams, Chris Evert, Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, Stefan Edberg, and many more; never have we witnessed so many tennis legends unite at one single occasion in that manner.

Nine-time singles champion Martina Navratilova sadly had to miss the ceremony after testing positive for Covid-19.

Federer, who has been out of action since Wimbledon last year, nursing a knee injury, gave the crowd a glimmer of hope they would see him one more time at the Championships.

“I hope to I can come back here one more time,” he told the Centre Court crowd.

Another special moment came when former player and star broadcaster Sue Barker, whose voice and presence has become synonymous with Wimbledon, received a standing ovation. This is Barker’s 30th and final year acting as host and MC of the Championships.

Djokovic into 13th Wimbledon quarter-final

Top seed Djokovic took sole ownership of third spot on the men’s all-time list of most Wimbledon quarter-finals reached by making it into his 13th at the All England Club with a four-set result against grass season breakout star Tim van Rijthoven.

Only Jimmy Connors (14) and Federer (18) have reached more quarter-finals in the men’s event at Wimbledon.

Djokovic was tested by Rijthoven, who entered the match undefeated on grass (in main draws) this season.

The defending champion picked up a 25th consecutive match-win at Wimbledon with a 6-2, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 win and next takes on Italian No.10 seed Jannik Sinner.

Sizzling Sinner triumphs over Alcaraz

Sinner had ever won a tour-level main draw match on grass prior to this fortnight.

Today, the 20-year-old played lights-out tennis to defeat No.5 seed Carlos Alcaraz 6-1, 6-4, 6-7(8), 6-3 and become the youngest Wimbledon men’s singles quarter-finalist since 2014.

Sinner held two match points in the third-set tiebreak, but Alcaraz saved them to keep his chances alive in the clash and forced a fourth.

Alcaraz swatted away three more match points to hold for 3-5 in the fourth but Sinner safely served out the win to reach the third Grand Slam quarter-final of his career at a third different major.

“I showed also this year until now I got consistency. I made many quarter-finals, many round of 16s. I think I improved also physically. If you go Grand Slam after Grand Slam and you go in the second week, you have to be good also physically,” said Sinner, who has made the second week in his last four majors.

“I think every single part of my game, to be honest. We try to give our best, especially in the practice sessions. I think I'm putting a lot of effort and right mentality in it.”

Jabeur back in the quarters

No.3 seed Ons Jabeur survived her toughest test yet as she put together a gritty performance to defeat Belgian No.24 seed Elise Mertens 7-6(9), 6-4 and return to the quarter-finals at Wimbledon for second straight year.

The Tunisian saved five set points before taking the one-hour first set and gave a huge roar as she wrapped up the win to set up a last-eight clash with Czech Republic’s Marie Bouzkova.

“Not just from my country but from the African continent; I want to see more players here. I want them to believe more in themselves and believe they can be here. I don't come from a rich family, you have to really stop finding excuses and go for it,” said Jabeur, who is the highest-ranked African player in tennis history.

The 27-year-old added in her press conference: "I'm just very positive about what I want to do. I have my goals very high for this tournament, so I'm going to keep doing that.

"No matter who's coming, I'm going to build the fight, I'm going to fight till the end because I really want the title."

Point of the day

Bouzkova, who had never made it past the second round in any of her previous 13 Grand Slam appearances, reached a maiden career major quarter-final with a clinical 7-5, 6-2 win over France’s Caroline Garcia.

The 23-year-old, ranked 66 in the world, pulled off the shot of the day early in the second set, responding to a Garcia backhand smash with this beauty.

Bouzkova and her team have been having a blast so far this Wimbledon and have been celebrating all her wins with the tournament’s famous strawberries and cream.

“I am in the quarter-finals, so it could not get any better, honestly. Right now, I am eating strawberries and cream with our team. That is our tradition after every match. We have to keep that going,” she said.

“I am just soaking in this moment. I don’t know how I got here, honestly. I enjoyed the moment, tried to embrace the emotions today and just to be in the quarter-finals, it is a dream.

“To be here (celebrating) 100 years of Centre Court, the first time we play on a Sunday, it is amazing. I love it so much every day. That is why we play tennis, for these moments.”

Niemeier, Maria set up all-German quarter-final

Jule Niemeier is making her Wimbledon main draw debut but she played like a seasoned grass court veteran as she dashed home hopes with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Heather Watson to move into the last eight.

The 22-year-old German, ranked 97 in the world, will face her 34-year-old compatriot Tatjana Maria, who is through to a maiden Grand Slam quarter-final on her 35th major appearance.

The mother of two, who upset fifth-seeded Maria Sakkari in the third round, knocked out former Roland-Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko 5-7, 7-5, 7-5.

Stat of the day

David Goffin defeated American No.23 seed Frances Tiafoe in the longest match of Wimbledon 2022, a marathon tussle that lasted 4hr 36min and saw the Belgian advance with a 7-6(3), 5-7, 5-7, 6-4, 7-5 scoreline.

It was the second consecutive Grand Slam where Goffin has beaten Tiafoe and it sent the 31-year-old into a second successive Wimbledon quarter-final.

“It means a lot. For me, it's almost like a back-to-back quarter-finals (at Wimbledon) because I didn't play last year. 2020 was closed with the Covid. The last time I played before this year was the quarter-final against Novak on Centre Court in 2019,” explained Goffin.

“I was very excited to come back here because it's very important tournament for me because it's probably my favourite tournament of the year, place that I love, surface that I can play really well.

“It means a lot. Especially last year was a tough year for me with some injuries. I stop for four or five months at the end of the year. At the beginning of the year I had to fight and stay positive to come back to my best level. The last few weeks or last few months was much better.”

In the last eight, Goffin will take on British No.9 seed Cameron Norrie, who beat American tournament debutant Tommy Paul in straight sets.

Norrie is into the maiden Grand Slam quarter-final of his career.

Quote of the day

“I've always felt good enough. I mean, I've won four WTA titles. That's not easy. I know when I light it up, I can play really well and beat anyone on my day, just like anyone on tour. Tennis is so up and down, so fickle. One minute you're doing great, the next you're out first round. I think I'm better at being more level-headed. I'll look back and be proud of myself I think for this week. But right now I'm a bit disappointed.”

– Great perspective from Watson following her fourth-round defeat to Niemeier