Wimbledon 2022 Day 8: Halep catches fire

Romanian returns to the quarter-finals at SW19 with clinical show against Badosa

Simona Halep Wimbledon 2022©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT
 - Reem Abulleil

The singles quarter-finals are set after a thrilling second day of fourth round action came to a close at the All England Club on Monday.

Champions returned to the final eight, while others hit new milestones by making it this far at a Grand Slam for the very first time.

Simona strolls past Paula

The women’s draw at Wimbledon may seem as open as ever but Simona Halep gave in a vintage performance on Monday that has no doubt shot her name up to the very top of the title favourites list.

The 2019 champion was in ruthless form as she dismissed No.4 seed Paula Badosa 6-1, 6-2 in 59 minutes to reach the fifth Wimbledon quarter-final of her career, and record her 11th consecutive victory at the All England Club.

A former world No.1, seeded No.16 at Wimbledon this fortnight, Halep saved the sole break point she faced against Badosa en route to her 30th match-win of the season (only Iga Swiatek and Ons Jabeur have won more matches on tour in 2022).

Halep came close to retirement and admittedly lost her confidence after enduring an injury-plagued 2021 campaign.

With a new team around her a newfound sense of joy on court, Halep is inching closer to her best form and feels like things have come full circle for her, three years after lifting the Venus Rosewater Dish on Centre Court at Wimbledon.

“It means a lot that I'm back in a quarter-finals after I struggled so much with injuries and self-confidence,” said the 30-year-old after her win over Badosa, the first of her career over a top-five player on grass.

“I feel strong physically. I feel very good mentally. So I think everything comes together. I feel I have power on court.”

The Romanian’s reward is a last-eight showdown with American No.20 seed Amanda Anisimova, who ended the inspired run of France’s Harmony Tan in straight sets.

“I think the work is really important to be able to play well. I worked really hard in the past two, three months. I'm really happy with all that I've done,” explained the 30-year-old.

“That's why I'm starting to play better and better. I got the confidence. I really feel this is my game. I'm pushing myself to do it as much as possible. I want to improve still. So I'm really looking forward to work more and to be able to do it better.”

An eighth quarter-final for Rafa

No.2 seed Rafael Nadal became just the third man in the Open Era to reach the quarter-finals at Wimbledon after turning 36, thanks to a 6-4, 6-2, 7-6(6) victory over Dutch No.21 seed Botic van de Zandschulp.

The 22-time Grand Slam champion is into his 47th major quarter-final, and eighth at Wimbledon.

Nadal will face American No.11 seed Taylor Fritz for a spot in the semi-finals, in what will be a rematch of their Indian Wells title decider from earlier this season.

Fritz, who won Eastbourne on the eve of the Championships and is on an eight-match winning streak on grass, reached a maiden Grand Slam quarter-final with a 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 success over Australian Jason Kubler.

“Feeling all the hard work I've been putting in, all the things I've been doing, it's paying off. It feels amazing. Doesn't even seem real. I'm in the Wimbledon quarter-final,” said the 24-year-old on Monday.

“Things like this I've kind of worked for my whole life. It's great to kind of soak it in and feel like everything's kind of -- the work's paying off and I'm moving in the right direction.”

‘I’m comfortable in my own skin’

Eight years after he stunned Nadal in the fourth round as a 19-year-old ranked 144 in the world, Nick Kyrgios is back in the Wimbledon quarter-finals.

The unseeded Aussie overcame shoulder pain and a stubborn Nakashima to post a 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(2), 3-6, 6-2 scoreline and reach the third Grand Slam quarter-final of his career, and first since the 2015 Australian Open.

The world No.40 improved his five-set record to an impressive 11-3 and will next face Chilean Cristian Garin.

Kyrgios praised Nakashima’s game and is proud of his own progress, noting how much he has evolved over the years to get to this point.

“There was a time where I was having to be forced out of a pub at 4 a.m. to play Nadal second round. My agent had to come get me out of a pub at 4 a.m. before I played my match on Centre Court Wimbledon. I've come a long way, that's for sure,” said the entertaining Canberran, who had a fiery four-set win over No.4 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in the third round.

“But I think just daily habits and the people around me. I've got an incredible support crew. My physio is one of my best friends. My best friend is my agent. I've got the best girlfriend in the world. I've just got so many people around me, they just support me. I feel like I can reflect on all those dark times when I pushed them all away.

“Now to sit here quarter-finals of Wimbledon, feeling good, feeling composed, feeling mature, having that around me; I'm extremely blessed. I feel like I'm just comfortable in my own skin.”

Nick Kyrgios, Wimbledon 2022, fourth round©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

Comeback of the day

Cristian Garin bt Alex de Minaur 2-6, 5-7, 7-6(3), 6-4, 7-6(6)

Chilean world No.43 Cristian Garin became the first player to record a successful comeback from 0-2 down at Wimbledon this year, defeating Alex De Minaur in a fifth-set tiebreak, saving two match points along the way.

It was the fourth successful comeback from 0-2 down of Garin's career and he becomes the first Chilean man to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final since Fernando Gonzalez at the 2009 US Open.

Garin was initially drawn to face an in-form Matteo Berrettini in the first round before the Italian was forced to withdraw from the tournament after testing positive for Covid-19.

“I was upset, but I'm here. I'm still playing,” Garin said of how he felt when he saw the draw.

Garin-Kyrgios will be the first Wimbledon quarter-final between two unseeded players since Arnaud Clement faced Rainer Schuettler in 2008.

Quote of the day

"He stepped it up a lot more obviously. He played some big shots in big moments. Fortune favors the brave. I think that was him today."

– Alex de Minaur on Cristian Garin

Emotional moment of the day

Ajla Tomljanovic survived a 2hr 35min tug of war with a tireless Alize Cornet before defeating the Frenchwoman 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 to return to the Wimbledon quarter-finals for a second straight year.

The Australian, who was pushed to her limits by Cornet, particularly in a 26-shot rally that earned her a match point, simply sat at her bench crying after the win, soaking it all in and trying to comprehend how she got through that match.

“I don’t know, I didn’t really think I could do it,” said an emotional Tomljanovic on court.

“I have such great memories from last year and in a way I look back at that week a year ago, I think I didn’t enjoy it as much as I should have. After some tough moments this year, I thought I when am I going to get that chance again? And I can’t believe a year later I’m in the same position.”

The 29-year-old will square off with Kazakhstani No.17 seed Elena Rybakina, who is through to a maiden Grand Slam quarter-final with a 7-5, 6-3 win over Croatian Petra Martic.

Rybakina, who describes her game using three simple words, “Very aggressive tennis”, hasn’t dropped a set en route to the final eight.  

“I never compared myself with anyone. I just know that I have this gift. I'm tall and I play really fast. It's effortless, I would say. It's not something I'm working in the gym or something. This is my weapon, and I'm just trying to use it as much as I can,” said the 23-year-old.

Ajla Tomljanovic, Wimbledon 2022, fourth round©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT