Wimbledon 2024: Silent warrior Rybakina sails into quarterfinal as injury impedes Kalinskaya

Elena Rybakina, who came into the match as the only woman left in a decimated draw to have lifted the Venus Rosewater Dish, found herself an early break down but the 2022 champion settled her nerves quickly.

Published : Jul 08, 2024 19:50 IST , London - 3 MINS READ

Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan plays a forehand against Anna Kalinskaya.
Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan plays a forehand against Anna Kalinskaya. | Photo Credit: Getty Images

Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan plays a forehand against Anna Kalinskaya. | Photo Credit: Getty Images

Elena Rybakina is a bit of a silent warrior. A woman of very few words and stoic demeanour, her tennis is contrastingly powerpacked.

On Monday in the fourth round at Wimbledon, Anna Kalinskaya experienced it first hand, falling behind 3-6, 0-3 in just 53 minutes to the 2022 champion before being forced out of the tournament with a wrist injury.

The abbreviated nature of the contest should take nothing away from Rybakina’s performance. She won 86 per cent of her first-serve points, hit seven aces and executed 25 winners to show that she was close to the form that won her the title two years ago.

The Russia-born Kazakh was largely untroubled, but for the very first game when Kalinskaya broke her. The easy power in her strokes may be soothing to the fans’ eyes, but for opponents they are no less than cannonballs.

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From 1-3 down, the 25-year-old reeled off five straight games, a stretch during which she didn’t allow her opponent a single service point. A minor wobble when she went a break-point down while serving for the first set was taken care of with a monstrous ace down the T.

Kalinskaya, a clean-striker herself, came up with a few delectable shots, but the injury, for which she received a medical time-out before the eighth game of the first set, seemed to hamper her service.

In the opening game of the second stanza, she kicked the ball in frustration after a double-fault. Another one handed Rybakina a crucial break of serve.

The crowd sensed that the end was near and even egged Kalinskaya on during the changeover. But she was broken again in the third game and it was not long before the 25-year-old Russian waved the white flag.

Also on the day, Italian Lorenzo Musetti stopped the stunning run of Frenchman Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard in the fourth round with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 victory. The 21-year-old could have become the first lucky loser in Grand Slam history to make the quarters before Musetti had his measure.

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Until the third round, Perricard— with his penchant for the net-rushing game, the kind of which attracts more eyeballs and draws more footfalls at Wimbledon than any other place — had served a whopping 105 aces, ranking him seventh in the all-time list for most aces hit in the first three rounds of men’s singles at the grass Major.

But Musetti blunted this weapon, allowing just 10 unreturnables, to reach his maiden Slam quarterfinal. Perricard’s effort, though, is sure to guarantee him a main draw place at the US Open. From being outside the top-120 in the first week of May, he will soon break into the top-50.

“It’s going to be my first Grand Slam with my ranking, so I’m very happy and excited,” he said. “It’s going to be a new chance to play a Grand Slam. I like the US Open. I know what I can do. I’m going to be ready.”

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