It’s always a strange feeling for me as a fan when one of my top favorites is knocked off by another one of my top favorites. Such was the case today when 5th seed Simona Halep came back to defeat 9th seed Madison Keys, 6-7 (5) 6-4 6-3. Keys was a little hobbled at the end, but no excuses are allowed at this level. If it were Simona playing a little injured in the final set I wouldn’t take anything away from Madison. I’ve probably only mentioned a million times that Maddie is my #1 favorite active player, but Simona isn’t that far behind. Besides, all the rest of my top favorites on the men’s and women’s sides have been shown the exit, save for one on each side. Maddie. Novak Djokovic. Petra Kvitova. Garbine Muguruza. Sloane Stephens. Ana Ivanovic. Gael Monfils. Lucie Safarova. Kei Nishikori. All gone. Carrying the torch for my fandom in the second week will be Simona Halep for the women and Milos Raonic for the men. Don’t get me wrong. I like pretty much every player. These are just my top favorites from among my favorites. The problem for Simona is that next up is 4th seed Angelique Kerber. Even if Halepeno gets by that match, she likely would face 5-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams in the semis, unless Yaroslava Shvedova can pull the upset. And we all know who everybody expects to make it to the final out of the top half of the draw should Simona make it out of the bottom half. Ah, but it isn’t supposed to be easy. If Simona is to win her first singles Major at Wimbledon 2016 she will need to do it the old-fashioned way, by earning it.
The biggest surprise quarterfinalist for me is Elena Vesnina. Sure, her ranking is higher than Shvedova, but Elena is the only quarterfinalist who has never before been in a Major singles quarterfinal. This is a first for her. I was impressed by how she battled to defeat her longtime doubles partner, Ekaterina Makarova, 5-7 6-1 9-7 to punch her ticket to the quarters. But she has a tough task ahead with former Australian Open runner-up Dominika Cibulkova, who has looked very strong in back to back wins over Eugenie Bouchard and 3rd seed Agnieszka Radwanska. A potential semifinal showdown between Serena Williams and Domi seems destined…unless Elena (or Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova) can crash the party.
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ELENA VESNINA d. Ekaterina Makarova, 5-7 6-1 9-7
5 SIMONA HALEP d. 9 Madison Keys, 6-7 (5) 6-4 6-3