A thrilling Wimbledon fourth-round showdown Sunday was cut short as No.12 seed Madison Keys was forced to retire against No.7 seed Jasmine Paolini, who advanced 6-3, 6-7(6), 5-5 to her first quarterfinal at SW19.

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The Roland Garros finalist had come within two points of victory in the second-set tiebreak, which she had forced from 5-1 down. In the decider, Paolini trailed 5-2 before mounting another fightback. After she had cut Keys' lead to 5-4, the American left the court for a medical timeout and was visibly ailing on resumption.

On Monday, Keys addressed her injury in an instagram post:

A nominee for Most Improved Player in the 2023 year-end WTA Awards, Paolini has hit even greater heights in 2024. As well as her run to the final in Paris, she lifted her first WTA 1000 trophy in Dubai in February. Having never won a match at Wimbledon before this year, Paolini has now won four straight. She is the fifth Italian woman to reach the Wimbledon quarterfinals in the Open Era, and the first since Camila Giorgi in 2018.

Match moments: Until Keys' injury, the match had been a top-quality contest in which momentum had swung back and forth. In their only previous meeting, in the first round of Dubai 2023, Keys had routed Paolini 6-1, 6-1. It's a mark of the Italian's immense improvement that she had exceeded that by the first changeover, racing out of the blocks to a 4-0 lead.

The first set was a masterclass from Paolini, who returned Keys's pace with interest and pulled off several deft volleys. But after dropping serve at the start of the second set amidst rain so loud on the No.1 Court roof that it drowned out the sound of the ball being struck, Keys mounted a thunderous fightback. Reducing her error count and upping her first serve percentage, the 2017 US Open runner-up rattled off five straight games to lead 5-1.

Keys held two set points at that stage, but double-faulted on the first. Paolini won a spectacular net exchange on the second, setting the scene for a run of four games herself as she levelled at 5-5.

The closing stages of the second set produced some of the finest tennis of The Championships so far, with both players producing a series of remarkable winners as they went toe-to-toe. Paolini drew gasps with a running backhand pass down the line at 5-5, only for Keys to get out of that four-deuce tussle with a pair of aces. Keys came up with an absurd forehand squash shot pass of her own in the next game, but Paolini held firm to force the tiebreak. There, Keys converted her fourth set point with some superb net play.

In Paolini's words: "I hope she recovers soon," Paolini told press afterwards. "I think we played a really good match. Of course, is not the easiest thing to end like this. But I have to say that a part of me is happy to be here in the quarterfinal in Wimbledon. 

"[The match] was a rollercoaster because I think she's playing unbelievable. I was doing more mistakes, her level was going up. It's not easy to play against her because I think she's one of the best players in the world. Of course, she's hitting so fast.

"It's normal that it was a rollercoaster because the level was so high. If one of us was going a little bit down, the other one was going up, you know?"

More to come...

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