Barbora Krejcikova, the freshly christened French Open champion, was asked Thursday how many women had a chance to win the Wimbledon title.
“Everyone,” she said, “because it’s grass. It’s very unpredictable. So I think everybody has a chance to actually go very deep, and to maybe lift up the trophy.”
Why not Krejcikova, who has won 14 straight matches?
The field is opening up. The latest notable seed to exit the All England Club was No.3 Elina Svitolina, who fell to Magda Linette 6-3, 6-4 – in 65 minutes.
“There has been really a big race in women’s game where anyone can win any tournament,” Svitolina said. “A lot of good players, doesn’t matter on the ranking, they can challenge you with amazing performance. First, second round, there is all the time tough matches.
“Everyone is extremely fit. I think it’s also a big step for tennis. Everyone seems like the same level. So I think that’s what’s really changed. It’s like physically everyone is ready to beat you.”
With the departure of Svitolina, only four of the top 10 seeds remain after two rounds – and, incredibly, World No.1 Ashleigh Barty is the only one alive in the top half of the draw.
Here’s a look at your eight Saturday third-round matches from the top half, featuring a remarkable five (count them, five) first-time encounters and, as a special bonus, British wildcard Emma Raducanu – ranked No.338. The winners book a coveted spot in Week 2.
No.1 Ashleigh Barty versus Katerina Siniakova
Barty hasn’t been perfect, but she has found a way into the third round.
Since 1968 and the advent of the Open Era, the No.1 seed at All England Club has won the championship 24 times.
After dropping a set in the first round, Barty was a 6-4, 6-3 winner Thursday over Anna Blinkova in the second. That gave her 30 match-wins for the season, one behind Sabalenka and Ons Jabeur.
Katerina Siniakova, meanwhile, defeated CoCo Vandeweghe 4-6, 6-2, 6-2.
“I try and approach every single match with the same mindset,” Barty said. “That’s one that I go out there and try and play my opponent one-on-one. I try to bring my game style and play my game style as often as possible, knowing what their strengths and weaknesses are.”
Siniakova, 25, is one of five Czech Republic players in the third round. She’s ranked No.64 and coming off a terrific tournament in Bad Homburg, where she reached the final before losing to Angelique Kerber. Siniakova is 11-3 in her past 14 matches.
They’ve met in doubles numerous times, but never in singles.
No.14 Barbora Krejcikova versus Anastasija Sevastova
At the moment, no one is playing better than Krejcikova.
On Thursday, the 25-year-old Czech defeated Andrea Petkovic 7-5, 6-4 on Thursday to reach the third round. Krejcikova came into Wimbledon following titles at Strasbourg and then at Roland Garros.
Krejcikova, however, does have a brief history at Wimbledon. She won the 2018 doubles title with Siniakova and competed in singles qualifying from 2017-19. She’s seeded for the first time in a major and feeling good about herself.
“I had such a huge run in Paris, and then after I didn’t really have much time to actually prepare, so came here with no expectations,” Krejcikova said in her post-match press conference. “So far I’m really happy that I’m in the third round and I’m going to play another match. It’s amazing.”
Sevastova overcame Marta Kostyuk in the last round 1-6, 6-4, 6-3.
Sorana Cirstea versus Emma Raducanu
Based on the numbers, neither player is supposed to be here.
Yet, the No.45-ranked Cirstea upset No.12 Victoria Azarenka 7-6 (5), 3-6, 6-4 on Thursday. Raducanu, that 18-year-old British wildcard, upended Marketa Vondrousova 6-2, 6-4.
Cirstea, at 31, is 13 years older than Raducanu but she’s managed to record five Top 20 wins this season. Her opening-round win was her first on grass since 2018.
Raducanu, the last British woman in the draw, had never played a WTA player ranked in the Top 10. She met Cirstea at the beginning of the tournament, courtesy of her coach, Nigel Sears.
“I thought she’s a very, very sweet young lady,” Cirstea said. “Yeah, to be honest, I don’t know her game very much, but I’m sure she’s playing great. If she’s already in the third round, then it’s going to be interesting.”
Jelena Ostapenko versus Ajla Tomljanovic
Ostapenko looks like she’s on one of those rolls. After winning the title a week ago in Eastbourne, we should have known.
The 2017 French Open winner seems poised to put together the kind of run that carried her all the way to the Wimbledon semifinals in 2018.
The 24-year-old from Latvia posted five Top 35 wins in Eastbourne and now possesses a seven-match win streak on grass.
On Thursday, Ostapenko showed some patience and fortitude, taking out No.31 Daria Kasatkina 6-1, 3-6, 8-6.
Tomljanovic dispatched Alize Cornet 6-4, 0-6, 6-3 one round after Cornet took out No.5 seed Bianca Andreescu. The 28-year-old from Australia, ranked No.75, has already exceeded her best Wimbledon result.
Head-to-head: 1-0, Ostapenko, a straight-sets win earlier this year in Rome.
No.30 Paula Badosa versus Magda Linette
In the first round against Amanda Anisimova, Linette was down a set and a break and turned it around. Thursday’s upset of Svitolina was more emphatic – 6-3, 6-4.
It was only the second Top 10 win of her career, and the first that didn’t involve a retirement.
The 29-year-old from Poland is trying to achieve her best Wimbledon result. She reached the third round two years ago, losing to Petra Kvitova.
“I think she was taking everything in her hands,” Svitolina said of Linette. “She played really clean today and really was striking the ball unbelievable. Made a lot of winners.
“She played unbelievable, to be fair, today.”
Indeed, Linette hit 28 winners, against only 15 unforced errors.
Badosa, for her part, handled Yulia Putintseva 6-4, 6-1. She now has recorded the first two Wimbledon wins of her career.
No.16 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova versus No.19 Karolina Muchova
History and rankings-wise, this looks like a tight one.
Pavlyuchenkova has been enjoying a renaissance
The 29-year-old Russian made the semifinals in Madrid, then bolted into the final at Roland Garros, before losing in three sets to Krejcikova. She’s been efficient at Wimbledon, winning all four sets including Thursday’s 6-3, 6-3 contest with Krystina Pliskova 6-3, 6-3.
Muchova, who beat Camila Giorgi 6-3, 5-7, 6-3, has already shown some steel in big moments this year. The 24-year-old Czech beat world No.1 Barty in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, then upended No.2 Naomi Osaka and Maria Sakkari in Madrid.
Head-to-head: 2-0, Pavlyuchenkova, 2019 Moscow semifinals, 2021 Madrid quarterfinals; three of five sets went to tiebreakers.
No.20 Coco Gauff versus Kaja Juvan
These are two of the three youngest players left in the draw.
Gauff, the 17-year-old American, defeated Elena Vesnina 6-4, 6-3 in a spiffy 71 minutes. Juvan, 20 and from Slovenia, was a 6-3, 6-4 winner over Clara Burel. She’s ranked No.102.
Given her fourth-round breakthrough at Wimbledon in 2019, it’s hard to remember this is only Gauff’s third main draw on grass.
“I honestly was more nervous today coming into today’s match,” Gauff told reporters. “I think the biggest thing is I don’t really remember much from my Centre Court experience in 2019. I don’t know, I felt like it was all a blur.
“But going in today I feel like a completely different player and person. I think I did a good job with trying my best to calm my nerves. It wasn’t my best tennis today, but I think mentally I gave a good performance considering how nervous I was.”
Head-to-head: 1-1, Gauff won earlier this year in Adelaide; Juvan prevailed in a qualifying victory two years ago at Roland Garros.
No.25 Angelique Kerber versus Aliaksandra Sasnovich
After Kerber outlasted Sara Sorribes Tormo 7-5, 5-7, 6-4, she pumped both fists multiple times and issued a huge sigh of relief. As well she should – it’s viewed by numerous experts as the match of the tournament so far.
It required 3 hours, 18 minutes, but Kerber found the strength. The Court 2 crowd gave both players a standing ovation afterward.
Kerber, who memorably won the Wimbledon title three years ago, defeating Serena Williams in the final, is one of only two past champions still in the draw. Garbiñe Muguruza, who won the year before, is the other.
Aliaksandra Sasnovich was on the other side of Centre Court when 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams retired with a leg injury in the first round. In the second, the 27-year-old from Belarus defeated Nao Hibino 6-4, 7-6 (4).
Sasnovich, ranked No.100, is looking to equal her best major result (fourth round, 2018 Wimbledon).