Sunday, July 21, 2024

Paolini storms into quarter-finals


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The Italian No.7 seed is into the last eight at Wimbledon for the first time

London, July 7: Flowering jasmine is a defining sight of the British midsummer, and the genus jasminoides Paolini is blossoming spectacularly at Wimbledon 2024.
All the same, fantastic matches aren’t meant to end this way. For almost two hours and 20 minutes, Madison Keys and Jasmine Paolini carved out an absolute thriller of a fourth round under the No.1 Court roof.
No woman in the 2024 Wimbledon draw has a better match-winning percentage on grass than the 29-year-old American.
As recently as a few weeks ago she, and everyone else, might have expected little from Paolini on the greensward. The Italian arrived in Eastbourne last month with a 0-5 career record on the surface, but with a south coast semi-final under her belt, she was ready to take on Keys – a five-time veteran of the last 16 stage here.
As thunder boomed overhead, a spectacular seesaw battle played out in which Keys fought back from a set and a break down to stand on the brink of her third career Wimbledon quarter-final.But a hamstring strain left her weeping with pain and from a 5-2 lead in the third set she was all but helpless. With the score at 5-5 she knew the cause was lost and retired, to leave Paolini through to her maiden appearance in the last eight here.“Right now I’m so sorry for her,” the Italian told the crowd. “To end the match like this is bad. It was a really good tough match. A lot of up and downs. I feel a bit happy and a bit sad for her. It’s not easy to win like that.
“It was a rollercoaster. I started really well but she’s a great champion. I was telling myself you never know in tennis. She retired, and I’m here with the win.”
Early on, those courtside on No.1 struggled to make sense of the idea that in the only previous meeting between these two in Dubai last year, Keys flattened her opponent for the loss of two games.
Paolini has become a different player since then, at 28 her potential blossoming late as she finished runner-up to Iga Swiatek at Roland-Garros last month.
Brimming with self-belief, in this match she and her signature return did their worst.For the first time this Fortnight, Keys surrendered a set. When Paolini broke again at the start of the second, Keys’ prospects looked gloomy. But the Italian’s level dropped just a little.As a storm raged audibly outside, Keys glimpsed vulnerability and clawed her way back.
With pounding rain on the roof almost obliterating the sound of the ball strike within the closed arena, suddenly it was all about the American. (AP)


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