In just her second Wimbledon main draw, No.17 seed Elena Rybakina booked her first quarterfinal at The Championships, defeating Petra Martic 7-5, 6-3 in 1 hour and 20 minutes.
The result takes Rybakina one round further than on her 2021 debut, when she made the last 16, and puts her into her second career major quarterfinal following Roland Garros 2021. The 23-year-old becomes the second Kazakh to reach the last eight at SW19 following Yaroslava Shvedova, who made that stage in 2016.
Rybakina extended her head-to-head lead against Martic to 2-0, having previously defeated the Croat 7-6(5), 7-6(2) in the 2020 Dubai semifinals. That victory was part of the 21-4 record with which she started that year, a surge that took Rybakina into the Top 20 just before the Covid shutdown.
Rybakina had won just one of three grass-court matches ahead of Wimbledon this year, losing in the second round of both Berlin (to Shelby Rogers) and Eastbourne (to Lesia Tsurenko). Her run this fortnight marks her third quarterfinal of the year following Adelaide, where she was runner-up in January, and Indian Wells in March.
Match management: Rybakina controlled the majority of the match with thunderous and increasingly accurate power. She edged a tight opening act with 13 winners to 14 unforced errors but rose to near-flawless heights in the second, tallying another 13 winners while reducing her error count to a meagre three.
Martic's greatest impact on the match came as she reeled off four straight games from 3-0 down to lead 4-3 with a break in the first set. During this passage of play, the former World No.14 successfully managed to disrupt Rybakina's rhythm with slice and variety. But serving to force a tiebreak at 5-6, 30-30, Martic sent a pass inches long -- and Rybakina seized the opportunity with gusto, thumping a forehand winner to snatch the set.
Strong serving kept Martic in touch at the start of the second set, but Rybakina struck in the sixth game. The two-deuce mini-tussle saw her deliver not just power but delicate touch, drawing appreciative gasps from the No.1 Court crowd with a sumptuous half-volley. Rybakina converted her second break point of the game when Martic netted a backhand, and it proved decisive.
Throughout the second set, Rybakina conceded only three points on serve, and she closed out the match with a minimum of fuss. A no-nonsense backhand crosscourt on her first match point was too powerful for Martic to handle, and Rybakina moved through to face either Alizé Cornet or Ajla Tomljanovic.
Yet to drop a set 🔥— wta (@WTA) July 4, 2022
🇰🇿 Elena Rybakina powers past Martic 7-5, 6-3 to reach the last eight at #Wimbledon for the first time!
Next faces Cornet or Tomljanovic for a spot in the semis 🔜 pic.twitter.com/W8S8jHOgC6
Rybakina on the double-edged sword of suboptimal preparation: "This year I would say that I didn't start well. I was not so confident because I didn't have good preparation. I was injured, got sick in Paris, and I couldn't recover.
"[But] maybe also something help me bit. I was more relaxed. I'm still more relaxed, enjoying my time here. Yes, I knew that the preparation is not the greatest. I was not feeling well the other months. I was suffering from the allergies, Covid earlier this year. It just kept on happening some issues.
"So now I'm just happy that no matter how I play, maybe it's not the best, best shape physically, shots-wise, but overall I'm just happy that I'm managing to win these close matches."
Rybakina on close sets, having won three tiebreaks and three 7-5 sets this fortnight: "Just play point by point, focus on my serve, of course. I think I was actually up many sets. In the end it got to the tiebreak. I knew what I have to do. It just was the question of the focus. I'm really happy that all these matches, I managed to win in two sets. Also these tiebreaks. I think it's good statistic compare the other matches I played."
Rybakina on her game style: "I never compared myself with anyone. I just know that I have this gift. I'm tall and I play really fast. It's effortless, I would say. It's not something I'm working in the gym or something. This is my weapon, and I'm just trying to use it as much as I can."