'Seed is just a number' - quartet bid for Wimbledon semis

A split picture of Jasmine Paolini, Emma Navarro, Lulu Sun and Donna Vekic
(left to right) Jasmine Paolini, Emma Navarro, Lulu Sun and Donna Vekic are in the women's singles quarter-finals [BBC]

Going into Wimbledon there was a feeling the women's singles could be another wide-open tournament.

So it has proved.

On Saturday, one of Jasmine Paolini, Emma Navarro, Lulu Sun or Donna Vekic will appear in their first SW19 final.

The quartet make up the same half of the women's last eight and, on Tuesday, two of them will advance to their first semi-final at the All England Club.

Only Paolini, who was overpowered and overawed by top seed Iga Swiatek in the French Open final last month, has gone beyond the last eight of a Grand Slam.

The Italian seventh seed meets American 19th seed Navarro in the second match on Centre Court (about 17:30 BST).

Qualifier Sun from New Zealand, fresh from beating Britain's Emma Raducanu, faces Croatia's Vekic when they open proceedings on Court One at 13:00.

Tuesday's other singles matches are the two men's quarter-finals featuring top seed Jannik Sinner and defending champion Carlos Alcaraz.

Italy's Sinner, 22, plays Russian fifth seed Daniil Medvedev on Centre Court at 13:30.

Spanish third seed Alcaraz, 21, takes on American 12th seed Tommy Paul on Court One at about 15:30.

Surprise packages are 'here for a reason'

Over the past eight days, defending champion Marketa Vondrousova and six other top-10 seeds have been knocked out in shock defeats.

Second seed Coco Gauff was the latest high-profile elimination, losing in straight sets to Navarro on Sunday.

"The seed is just a number," Gauff said after the defeat.

"It means nothing. Especially on my side of the draw, even though the players may not be as known, but they're so talented."

It has been a breakthrough season for Navarro, who won her first WTA Tour title in January and reached the fourth round of a major for the first time at last month's French Open.

Her quarter-final opponent Paolini has also enjoyed a stellar year, but the 28-year-old had never won a match at Wimbledon until last week.

At least one unseeded player is guaranteed to go as far as the semi-finals, with world number 37 Vekic taking on Sun, who is ranked 123rd.

"I think that's something that people, fans of the game, are a little bit disrespectful of when it comes to other players on tour," Gauff added.

"Maybe their ranking isn't there, but the level is there. They're here for a reason. They deserve their spot. There's no easy draw. There's no cakewalk or anything. This is a competitive sport and we all want to win."

Centre Court order of play

Alcaraz hopes for successful sporting day for Spain

Despite playing second on Court One, Alcaraz should be finished in time to watch Spain play their Euro 2024 semi-final against France at 20:00.

After his four-set victory over French 16th seed Ugo Humbert on Sunday, Alcaraz said: “Hopefully on Tuesday we are not going to play at the same time, but let’s see. Hopefully I will be able to see a little bit of the match.

“I have a really good relationship with a few players of the team. In particularly, with Alvaro Morata. He’s a really good friend. I know they are supporting me when I’m playing matches or I’m playing tournaments. It’s my turn."

Alcaraz, the reigning Wimbledon champion, has already won three Grand Slams at the age of 21 and takes on Paul, who is enjoying his best run in this tournament.

World number one Sinner plays Medvedev in a repeat of January's Australian Open final, in which the Italian fought back from two sets behind to win his first Grand Slam title.

Medvedev was only on court for 40 minutes in his last-16 tie before opponent Grigor Dimitrov was forced to retire.

Medvedev won his first six meetings against Sinner, but has now lost five in a row to the 22-year-old.

Asked how Sinner has improved, Medvedev said: "When Jannik came on tour, everyone was a little bit [surprised] how strong he hits, how he can run fast and hit strong from every position of the court.

"But he was missing a lot, and hence losing a lot some matches.

"As soon as he stopped missing less, now it's very tough to beat him for anyone. Not only for me."

Court One order of play