Upsets and thrillers highlight manic Monday at Wimbledon

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    It was a well and truly manic Monday that was played out at Wimbledon overnight, with Rafael Nadal and Angelique Kerber the latest big names to depart the tournament, while Roger Federer and Andy Murray both remain alive in their quest for another title at the All England Club.

    Previously in the day, Russian veteran Svetlana Kuznetsova became the first woman into the quarter-finals after she defeated long-standing rival and ninth seed Agnieszka Radwanska quite convincingly in straight sets.

    Kuznetsova trailed 0-40 against her serve in the opening game but she would secure a double break en route to taking the opening set 6-2.

    The second set proved to be much closer, with a marathon 12-minute third game seeing the Russian waste four break points before Radwanska finally held to extend the contest further.

    Another break later in the set would be enough to see Kuznetsova win 6-2, 6-4, completing a full circle of sorts.

    It had been ten years since she first met Radwanska on the WTA Tour, also at Wimbledon in 2007. On that occasion, she also won in straight sets en route to reaching the quarter-finals, which until now remained the last time the Russian managed to get this far at the All England Club.

    The dual Grand Slam champion will now face Garbine Muguruza in the quarter-finals after the Spaniard came from a break down in the final set to edge out soon-to-be-dethroned top seed Angelique Kerber in three sets.

    The match between the two most recent beaten Wimbledon finalists shaped as one of the more intriguing matches on Manic Monday, despite the poor form of both players this season.

    Kerber held her nerve in a twelve-minute game in the final set but eventually succumbed to defeat in the tenth game, the result meaning she will be knocked off top spot when the rankings are updated next Monday.

    The world number one ranking is now at the mercy of Simona Halep, who ended Victoria Azarenka’s comeback with a straight-sets win later in the day.

    Simona Halep

    (Carine06 / Flickr)

    The French Open finalist pulled through the opening set in a tiebreak before dominating the second to progress to the quarter-finals at the All England Club for the third time in the past four years.

    For Azarenka, the defeat was just her third in a Grand Slam fourth round match and first since the 2008 French Open. The new mother will still have a lot of work to do rankings-wise before the US Open next month.

    Standing in the way of Halep, the top spot in the rankings and a semi-final berth is local favourite Johanna Konta, who overcame a second set meltdown to defeat Caroline Garcia in three sets and become the first local woman into the quarter-finals at the All England Club since Jo Durie in 1984.

    History is against Halep, who has lost both of her previous two meetings against Konta including their most recent meeting in Miami where she served for the match in the second set, only to lose in three sets.

    If the Romanian is beaten tonight, then Karolina Pliskova will become the new world number one come Monday morning.

    The only remaining women’s champion left in the draw, Venus Williams, quelled the threat of Ana Konjuh to win her first match on Centre Court since 2011 and keep alive her bid for a sixth Wimbledon title.

    For the third consecutive match, she will face another young player in French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, who continued her recent impressive run of form at the Grand Slams by defeating Elina Svitolina in straight sets.

    American Coco Vandeweghe, coached by 1987 Wimbledon men’s champion Pat Cash, upset fifth seed Caroline Wozniacki in straight sets to advance to her second Wimbledon quarter-final, where she will be lined up against Slovakian surprise packet Magdalena Rybarikova.

    We now switch our focus to the men, where top seed Andy Murray overcame a sluggish start to defeat Frenchman Benoit Paire in straight sets and advance to the quarter-finals at his national championships for the tenth consecutive year.

    The result extended his winning streak against French opposition at Majors to 28 matches, dating back to his first round defeat against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at the 2008 Australian Open.

    Andy Murray yells in excitement

    (Photo: AAP)

    Murray’s path to a fourth Wimbledon final got a whole lot easier when his biggest threat in the top half of the draw, Rafael Nadal, lost a five-set thriller against Gilles Muller in a match lasting twelve minutes short of five hours.

    The Spaniard hadn’t lost a set at a Major since his loss to Roger Federer in the Australian Open final in January but dropped the opening two sets to find himself two sets to love down.

    However, he would fight back to take the next two and therefore set up a dramatic final set, which would leave everyone on the edge of their seats for two hours and fifteen minutes.

    Muller gained two match points against his serve in the tenth game, but from that point Nadal would win four points in a row, two of them aces, to keep the match ticking over.

    The Mallorcan would fight off another two match points ten games later, but would finally succumb to defeat in the 28th game, losing the final set 15-13.

    The result saw Muller through to just his second Grand Slam quarter-final (after previously getting this far at the 2008 US Open as a qualifier) and his first at the All England Club.

    The Luxembourger also joined some rare company, joining Roger Federer and Lleyton Hewitt as the only two men to defeat the Spaniard twice at any one Grand Slam tournament.

    Both of Hewitt’s wins over Nadal came at the Australian Open in consecutive years, in 2004 and 2005, though they both came before Rafael Nadal became the clay court king we all know now.

    Federer’s two wins over Nadal both came in a Wimbledon final, in 2006 and 2007.

    Muller had also previously defeated Nadal at the All England Club in 2005, though on that occasion the Spaniard was only starting to get used to the grass courts, having won his first Major at the French Open that year.

    Next for the 34-year-old is former US Open champion Marin Cilic, who dismissed another Spaniard, Roberto Bautista-Agut, in straight sets to reach the final eight at Wimbledon for the fourth consecutive year.

    That tie will guarantee a first-time Wimbledon semi-finalist, with Cilic set to start the favourite.

    In the bottom half, Milos Raonic and Roger Federer set up a rematch of their semi-final last year with victories over Alexander Zverev and Grigor Dimitrov, respectively.

    Raonic, the beaten finalist last year, required five sets to overcome 10th seed Zverev while Federer made a mockery of what was supposed to be a tough task against Dimitrov, thrashing the Bulgarian in straights.

    2010 finalist Tomas Berdych progressed by defeating eighth seed Dominic Thiem in five sets, but his quarter-final opponent remains unknown with the fourth round match between Adrian Mannarino and Novak Djokovic held over into tonight owing to the Nadal versus Muller thriller on Court One.

    The pair are first up on Centre Court before the ladies’ quarter-finals commence tonight (AEST).

    Matches to watch on Day 8
    Centre Court – Not before 12:00pm
    Adrian Mannarino (FRA) versus [2] Novak Djokovic (SRB)
    [10] Venus Williams (USA) versus [13] Jelena Ostapenko (LAT)
    [6] Johanna Konta (GBR) versus [2] Simona Halep (ROU)

    Court One
    [14] Garbine Muguruza (ESP) versus [7] Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS)
    [PR] Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK) versus [24] Coco Vandeweghe (USA)