Seed exits set up potential grudge match for Serena

Richard Hazeldine Richard Hazeldine

This year’s Wimbledon women’s singles has been remarkable for a number of reasons.

First, there was the pre-tournament controversy that saw Serena Williams handed a seeding, a decision that saw 32nd ranked Dominika Cibulkova unceremoniously dumped – but more about that later.

Then there was a crazy first week that saw nine of the top 10 seeds crash out, the last remaining top 10 seed, Karolina Pliskova (7) joined them on Monday.

It marks the first time in the Open era that so many top seeds have fallen so early.

Defending champion Garbine Muguruza (3), Australian Open champ Caroline Wozniacki (2), US Open winner Sloane Stephens (4), and finalist last year Venus Williams (9) all exited within three rounds.

Perhaps the biggest surprise was the exit of world number one and Roland Garros champion Simona Halep in round four at the hands of Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei, although for anyone who saw Hsieh play at the Australian Open in January it may not be that big a surprise.

What it does show is that without a dominant player in the mould of pre-pregnancy Serena, the women’s game remains as open as ever and anyone can win a slam.

Those still in the draw such as former slam winners Jelena Ostapenko and Angelique Kerber must be dreaming of adding another to their tally given how open it looks.

The fact that all these early exits have opened a path for Serena to win what would be her 30th grand slam title is also interesting, given the kerfuffle created by Wimbledon’s break in convention to hand the former world number one a seeding following her return to the tour after the birth of her daughter.

One of the biggest critics of that decision was fellow quarterfinalist Cibulkova, who was booted from the last seed’s spot to make way for Williams at 25.

Perhaps spurred on by that perceived injustice, the feisty Slovakian has bulldozed her way to the quarterfinals, upsetting opponents and seeds Johanna Konta (22), Elise Mertens (15) along the way.

That Cibulkova and Williams could potentially meet in Saturday’s final would add just a little more spice to a tournament that has already delivered so much.

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