Wimbledon Day 7: Swiatek back from the brink

Top seed saves two match points en route to three-set win over Bencic

Iga Swiatek / Fourth round, Wimbledon 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT
 - Reem Abulleil

Middle Sunday at Wimbledon featured brutal battles all around the grounds as players booked their spots in the quarter-finals.

Only Novak Djokovic's match against Hubert Hurkacz was not completed, with their fourth round suspended for curfew with the Serbian defending champion leading by two tiebreak sets.

Here's what you may have missed from Day 7 at the All England Club.

Iga, Elina come through huge battles

Iga Swiatek was one point away from packing her bags and departing SW19. Twice. She saved both match points and pulled off a narrow 6-7(4), 7-6(2), 6-3 victory over Swiss Olympic champion Belinda Bencic and reach the quarter-finals at Wimbledon for the first time.

“She had match point, right?” said an exhausted Swiatek in her on-court interview. “I don’t know if I ever had that in my career to come back from match point down.”

If Swiatek ends up winning Wimbledon, she would become just the third player in the Open Era to win the women’s singles title after saving a match point along the way. Venus Williams did it in 2005 and her sister Serena did it in 2009.

Sunday witnessed the first time Swiatek has played a tour-level match that included more than one tiebreak. Such has been her dominance that her matches are never that tight.

Iga Swiatek / Fourth round, Wimbledon 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

“I'm just happy I won it because honestly in second set I wasn't sure that it's going to end that way. I'm happy that I kind of kept my belief and I just played and I didn't look back,” said the four-time Grand Slam champion, who was down and a set and 5-6, 15-40 against Bencic.

“It wasn't an easy match. Rhythm was pretty fast. Yeah, I am happy that also physically I felt good till the end and I could just keep going.”

Next up for Swiatek is Ukrainian wildcard Elina Svitolina, who put together a heroic effort to come back from a set and 0-2 down, and wiping a 4-7 deficit in the deciding super-tiebreak to overcome two-time major champion Victoria Azarenka 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(11/9).

In her first two Grand Slams back from maternity leave – she gave birth to daughter Skai last October – Svitolina has made back-to-back Grand Slam quarter-finals, in Paris last month and now at Wimbledon.

“I think after giving birth, this is the second-happiest moment in my life,” an emotional Svitolina said on court.  

“It was an extremely tough match, when I was 0-2 down in the second set I heard you guys cheering for me and I almost wanted to cry.

“I was just trying to, I was thinking back home there’s lots of people watching and cheering for me. I know how much it means for them, any moment that they can share of happiness, it’s for sure, these kind of matches you go through, I was just thinking there is tough times in Ukraine and I’m here playing in front of you guys. I cannot complain, I just have to fight to win every single point and in the end, here I am, I won the match.”

It was Svitolina’s first victory in six meetings with Azarenka.

Dream debut

Playing his first Wimbledon main draw, Roman Safiullin upset No.26 seed and former semi-finalist Denis Shapovalov 3-6, 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 to reach the last-eight stage at a Grand Slam for the first time.

The world No.92 is the 12th man in the Open Era to reach the quarter-finals on his Wimbledon debut – and the first since Nick Kyrgios in 2014. Fellow Wimbledon debutant Christopher Eubanks is also bidding to reach the quarters here this year and will take on Stefanos Tsitsipas in the fourth round on Monday.

Rublev, Pegula complete Slam quarter-final box set

Andrey Rublev became the ninth active male player to reach the quarter-finals at all four Grand Slams thanks to a hard-fought 7-5, 6-3, 6-7(6), 6-7(5), 6-4 victory over Alexander Bublik on Centre Court on Sunday.

The No.7 seed has made three US Open quarter-final appearances, and has twice made that stage at each of Roland-Garros and the Australian Open. He has yet to reach the semi-finals at any major.

Earlier in the day, No.4 seed Jessica Pegula also completed her box set of Grand Slam quarter-final appearances by defeating Ukrainian veteran Lesia Tsurenko 6-1, 6-3.

Pegula had never made it past the third round in either of her previous two Wimbledon outings but has three Australian Open quarter-finals to her name, as well as last-eight showings at Roland-Garros and the US Open last year.

The American next faces former Roland-Garros finalist Marketa Vondrousova for a place in the final four.

Shot of the day

Rally of the day

In just her second Grand Slam main draw appearance, 16-year-old Mirra Andreeva is through to the Wimbledon fourth round with a 6-2, 7-5 victory over No.22 seed Anastasia Potapova.

The teen qualifier will next face No.25 seed Madison Keys.

To get a glimpse of just how good Andreeva is, here's how she broke back for 3-4 in the second set on Sunday.

Quote of the day

"I have to take it as any other match. Of course he's young, talented and a very dangerous player, but so am I – minus the young part."

Grigor Dimitrov is ready to take on sixth-seeded 20-year-old Holger Rune, who is 12 years his junior, in the fourth round.

In a third round that suspended from the day before, the 21st-seeded Bulgarian completed a 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 victory over No.10 seed Frances Tiafoe to reach the round of 16 at Wimbledon for the third time – and for the first since 2017.

Photo of the day

Arthur Fils and Luca van Assche celebrate their three-set win over the Tsitsipas brothers, Stefanos and Petros, in doubles first round action on Sunday.