LONDON, United Kingdom – Serena Williams is rounding into form just as the 7-time champion’s rivals have collapsed all around her in Wimbledon.
The status quo has been challenged like never before in the women’s singles, with 9 of the top 10 seeds crashing out before the Wimbledon last 16.
The latest casualty? World number one and French Open champion Simona Halep.
Halep was knocked out of on Saturday, July 7, losing to Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-Wei 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 in the 3rd round as the All England Club seeds’ carnage claimed another victim.
It’s the first time in the Open era that none of the top 5 women’s seeds have made the last 16 of a Slam.
Defeat for Halep means that Karolina Pliskova, at number 7, is the only women’s top 10 seed to reach the 4th round.
It also further boosted Williams’ chances of clinching an 8th crown.
Hsieh, the world number 48, battled back from 2-5 down in the final set and saved a match point when the Romanian served for the match at 5-3 in the decider.
It will be Hsieh’s first appearance in the last 16 of a Slam where she will face Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia for a place in the quarterfinals.
“It’s my first win against a world number one,” said 26-year-old Hsieh.
“It’s amazing. I was 2-5 down in the final set but the crowd pushed me to fight.”
Halep was left to rue her lost opportunities.
“I was leading the match, I was up, and I couldn’t finish it,” said the 2014 semifinalist.
“It was an unprofessional attitude from me today.”
Federer: Business as usual
In the men’s draw, 3rd seed Marin Cilic, 4th seed Alexander Zverev and 6th seed Grigor Dimitrov have all fallen.
The German Zverev, playing for the 3rd day in succession, was shocked by Latvian qualifier Ernests Gulbis, ranked 138, in 5 gruelling sets, 7-6 (7/2), 4-6, 5-7, 6-3, 6-0.
But it’s business as usual for Roger Federer as the defending champion took his consecutive sets won at Wimbledon to 29 in a 3rd round dismissal of Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff.
Federer’s 175th win from 200 career grass-court matches saw him overtake Jimmy Connors as the most successful male player on the surface.
Next, the Swiss star faces French 22nd seed Adrian Mannarino for a place in the quarterfinals.
World number two Federer, eyeing a 21st Grand Slam title, has won all 5 of his previous meetings with Mannarino, a 30-year-old journeyman who has never been past the last 16 at a major.
Although Federer is approaching peak form, he knows world number one Rafael Nadal – yet to drop a set in his first 3 matches – and 3-time Wimbledon winner Novak Djokovic – playing his way back to his best this week – are lurking as potential final opponents.
French Open champion Nadal, bidding for a first Wimbledon title since 2010, plays Czech world number 93 Jiri Vesely, while Djokovic takes on Russian world number 40 Karen Khachanov.
“Novak and Rafa, all these guys are still in the draw,” Federer said.
“At the end of the day I feel on our side not that much has happened. I know on the women’s side more so.
“In the past it has made me nervous when I’ve seen bigger guys go out.
“I feel like, ‘OK, it’s me next time.’ I didn’t feel the effect this time.” – Rappler.com