Wimbledon Spotlight: Women's QuarterfinalsDate: July 13, 2017
By: James Justice
The Tuesday spotlight of Wimbledon's eighth day of action shined brightest on the eight females who took the grass for the women's quarterfinals.
History by the home nation begins this conversation as Johanna Konta became the first British female to make a Wimbledon semifinal since Virginia Wade did it way back in 1978. With Wade on-hand the sixth-seeded Konta took down the second-seeded Simona Halep 6-7, 7-6, 6-4 in a game that was impossible to look away from. But match-point proved to put a damper on the slick proceedings as a spectator's shriek clearly threw off Simona Halep, who half-heartedly returned the ball into the net, ending the match and her tournament. Down five sets to four and 40-15 in the set Halep had a hill to climb, but still, the questions of what-if will remain as Halep seemed to be expecting the linesman to hold play after the disturbance. An unforgettable match in all the right ways ended in what may be an unforgettable moment in all the wrong ways.
The match epitomized a women's circuit that has been characterized by an extraordinary narrowness between the favorites at the top. Five of the eight quarterfinalists were somewhere between 6/1 and 8/1 favorites heading into the day. Right now Johanna Konta is listed at 9/4 by Bet365 and SkyBET over in the U.K. The favorite right now, by virtue of her victory earlier today is Garbine Muguruza.
Muguruza overcame the seventh-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3, 6-4, ending the Russians hope of a third grand slam title, and first at the All-England Club. Muguruza was a finalist last year, and at 23 years old is still trying to find consistency in these big tournaments. She followed up her finalist appearance at Wimbledon last year with a second round finish at the U.S. Open, and could do no better than the Round of 16 at Rolland-Garros in June. Despite this inconsistency however, her 6/4 odds are proof that most feel Muguruza will take her first Wimbledon and second Grand Slam by weeks' end.
Venus Williams, who is trying to make the most of her 2017 Wimbledon despite the remnants of that fatal collision in Palm Beach was able to get past Jelena Ostapenko 6-3, 7-5. The 37 year old Williams was making her debut at the French Open in 1997 a few weeks before the 13-seed Ostapenko was born. Williams, upon entering her mid-thirties took a peak at father time and quickly looked in the other direction. The only force that has stood in the way of getting her eighth Grand Slam has been her sister Serena, who of course, is absent in this year's tournament. Currently listed at 3/1 by Bet365 and SkyBET, the odds-makers may be making a big mistake doubting old Venus.
The other American on the court Tuesday, Coco Vandeweghe, was not so successful, finding herself on the wrong end of a Cinderella story as Magdalena Rybarikova prevailed 6-3, 6-3. Rybarikova has been ranked as high as 31st in the past but came into Wimbledon ranked outside the top 400 astoundingly. Now, somehow, she sits in the final four and even she admitted after the match that she could hardly believe it, adding that maybe after a night's sleep it will sink in. She will remain the underdog heading into the semifinals on Thursday, with odds of 7/1 and 8/1 by Bet365 and SkyBET.
It is easy to make an argument for any one of these four to win it, and why not? Konta seems to be catching the wave of momentum from the home crowd and is as locked in mentally as any. Muguruza is young, talented, and may have earned her moment on the big stage. Venus, quite the contrary in terms of age, but also seems to be playing out a script where she earns in her case, one final plate. And speaking of scripts, Rybarikova is looking like the star of a real-life fairy tale. Can she somehow not become absorbed by the achievement of making it this far, and keep her eyes forward on the prize that is only two games away? If she can she could be as dangerous as any.
James Justice can be reached at email@example.com.
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