Shelton Wins Battle Of Lefties At Wimbledon Over Shapovalov

Ben Shelton (photo: Wimbledon video)

WIMBLEDON/WASHINGTON, July 6, 2024 (by Michael Dickens)

With seven-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer in attendance, American Ben Shelton survived his third straight five-setter of the Wimbledon Championships fortnight to reach the fourth round for the first time at Wimbledon and third time at a major on Saturday. It’s an achievement that Federer could relate to and appreciate.

With the roof closed on No. 1 Court because of rain, Shelton set up a fourth-round clash with top seed Jannik Sinner with a 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 victory over 2021 Wimbledon semifinalist Denis Shapovalov of Canada in three hours and five minutes. The match originally was started late Friday on No. 3 Court but suspended by rain with Shelton leading 3-2.

By winning, the No. 14 seed Shelton became the first American lefty since John McEnroe in 1992 to advance to the fourth round at Wimbledon. He’s also into the fourth round 30 years after his father and coach, Bryan Shelton, reached the Wimbledon round of 16 in 1994.

“We’re back, big dog!” Shelton, 21, said to his smiling father, during his on-court interview. “A little rain yesterday gave me a rest. There’s nowhere better than Wimbledon to play tennis so it’s hard to be tired when you’re out here.”

Unlike his first two matches, when he rallied from down two-sets-to-one against Mattia Bellucci and Lloyd Harris, Shelton maintained an upper hand against fellow lefty Shapovalov. He improved to 6-2 in five-set matches.

Shelton, who dominated short rallies throughout the match, won 81 percent of his first-serve points and hit 38 winners. He outpointed the 121st-ranked Shapovalov 153-137.

In his in-court interview, Shelton was asked about facing World No. 1 Sinner on Centre Court Sunday:

“I’m happy with where I’ve gotten so far but definitely not satisfied. The pinnacle of tennis is playing the world No. 1 at Wimbledon, probably on Centre Court. So, I’m very excited and ready to get after it. See you guys tomorrow and let’s get it again. Come on!”

Putintseva ends Swiatek’s 21-match winning streak 

Unseeded Yulia Putintseva used a variety of shots to do to top seed Iga Swiatek what her past 21 opponent had not been able to do. In the end, the 35th-ranked Putintseva of Kazakhstan upset the World No. 1 Swiatek from Poland, coming from a set down to win, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, in an hour and 59 minutes on No. 1 Court.

The loss ended Swiatek’s 21-match winning streak that began last spring in Madrid on clay. Putintseva is undefeated on grass this summer, after winning a title in Birmingham last month. Now, she’s into her deepest-ever run at Wimbledon. While Swiatek’s winning streak is reset to zero, Putintseva’s now at eight.

“It feels really great. I don’t know how I did it,” Putintseva said in her on-court interview, feeding off the applause of the crowd while beaming a big smile. “I was focused on playing fast and not giving her any time and it worked. My coach told me to stay intense in every point. I’ve always been fired up since I was a kid.”

While Swiatek won her fourth Roland-Garros title on clay last month and has won a US Open crown on hard courts, her best finish at Wimbledon remains her quarterfinal run last year.

Next, Putintseva will meet No. 13 seed Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia, who eliminated No. 97 Bernarda Pera of the United States, 6-1, 6-3, in 59 minutes on Court 12.

Zverev overcomes fall, beats Norrie in marathon tie-break

Fourth seed Alexander Zverev overcame a second-set fall in which he tweaked his left knee and steadied himself to beat British No. 2 Cameron Norrie, 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (15) in two hours and 31 minutes on Centre Court with the roof closed.

Zverev improved to 6-0 lifetime against the 42nd-ranked Norrie.

After twice needing on-court treatment, Zverev steadied himself and pulled out the third-round win in a 32-point, third-set tie-break.

The World No. 4 from Germany won on his sixth match point of the tie-break after saving five set points.

Zverev, 27, became the fourth German man in the Open Era to reach the fourth round at The Championships at least three times. He also reached the round of 16 in 2017 and 2021, but hasn’t advanced further. Zverev has reached at least the semifinals at each of the other three majors.

Among the guests watching Zverev’s win from the Royal Box was Pep Guardiola, the successful manager of Manchester United of the English Premier League.

“When I saw Pep, I got so nervous for a few games,” Zverev said in his on-court interview. “It was a great honor and privilege to play in front of you. By the way, Bayern Munich needs a coach, man. If you’re tired of football you can coach me on the tennis court any time.”

Around the All England Club

• No. 16 seed Ugo Humbert of France wrapped up a four-set victory against American Brandon Nakashima that was carried over from Friday, 7-6 (9), 6-3, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (8), in three hours and 37 minutes on Court 12. He won on his fourth match-point opportunity.

Humbert is through to the fourth round for the first time since his 2019 debut. Next, he will face defending champion Carlos Alcaraz on Sunday.

In the same section of the draw, No. 112 Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain defeated No.94 Fabio Fognini of Italy, 7-6 (6), 3-6, 5-7, 7-6 (1), 6-4, in a match that was suspended by rain Friday and completed on Saturday. Bautista Agut will play No. 13 seed Tommy Paul on Sunday.

• Fifth seed Daniil Medvedev got past big-hitting Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany, 6-1, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (3), in two hours and 17 minutes on No. 2 Court to reach the Wimbledon fourth round for the third straight year.

The match was suspended at 1-1 in the fourth set on Friday due to rain and finished on Saturday.

Medvedev will play No. 10 seed Grigor Dimitrov for a place in the quarterfinals on Sunday.

• Ninth seed Alex de Minaur of Australia received a walkover into the fourth round after 212th-ranked qualifier Lucas Pouille of France withdrew with an abdominal injury.

Emma Raducanu of England withdrew from mixed doubles citing stiffness in her right wrist. She was to have teamed with Andy Murray on No. 1 Court Saturday evening.

Raducanu and Murray were given a wild card and were scheduled to play their first-round match against Zhang Shuai of China and Marcelo Arevalo-Gonzalez of El Salvador on No. 1 Court Saturday evening.

In a statement from the LTA, Raducanu said: “Unfortunately I woke up with some stiffness in my right wrist, so therefore I have decided to make the very tough decision to withdraw from the mixed doubles tonight. I’m disappointed as I was really looking forward to playing with Andy but got to take care.”

On Sunday, Raducanu is scheduled to face Lulu Sun on New Zealand in the fourth round of the women’s singles draw.

Murray and Raducanu were replaced in the mixed doubles draw by Rajeev Ram and Katie Volynets of the United States.

• Among the seeds advancing: Women — No. 11 Danielle Collins of the United States, who beat No. 20 Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil, 6-4, 6-4, with 22 winners after losing the first four games of thre match.

Also, No. 21 Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, who defeated No. 10 Ons Jabeur of Tunisia, 6-1, 7-6 (4), in an hour and 20 minutes on Centre Court. Svitolina outpointed the two-time Wimbledon finalist 69-54.

No. 4 Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, who beat 91st-ranked wild card Caroline Wozniacki, 6-0, 6-1, in 57 minutes on No. 1 Court behind 31 winners; and No. 31 seed Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic, who won by retirement over 83rd-ranked Jessica Bouzas Maneiro of Spain.

Saturday’s Wimbledon results

Sunday’s Wimbledon order of play

By the numbers

Carlos Alcaraz is 12-1 in five-set Grand Slam matches. After Alcaraz won his first three, he lost the fourth against Matteo Berrettini. Now, Alcaraz has won nine straight — including Friday’s win over Frances Tiafoe. Of those nine, two have been Grand Slam semifinals and two have been Grand Slam finals. None of the Spaniard’s 12 five-set victories have been from two sets down.

“Quotable …”

“I’ll remember this one for a while. I still think about when I lost to him in the [US] Open. Twice you’re a set away, you never know what can happen after. Of course, I’m going to think about that. Especially if I want to win one of these things, I got to beat him.”

— No. 29 seed Frances Tiafoe of the United States, during his post-match news conference Friday, describing his feelings after losing a five-set third-round match to No. 3 seed Carlos Alcaraz on Centre Court.