Tuesday’s two glistening quarterfinals from the bottom-half of this Wimbledon draw could not present a sharper contrast.

Wimbledon 2024: Scores | Draws | Order of play

Jasmine Paolini and Emma Navarro, both Top 20 players, will clash for the fourth time in 10 months. Qualifier Lulu Sun, playing her first tournament at the All England Club, has won seven straight matches this fortnight and meets Donna Vekic for the first time.

“No one makes the quarterfinals of Wimbledon by accident,” said Vekic.

Let’s make the case for these four first-time Wimbledon quarterfinalists:

[7] Jasmine Paolini vs. [19] Emma Navarro

The Case for Navarro: She played the match of her life Sunday, defeating World No.2 Coco Gauff 6-4, 6-3 in the fourth round. It was her second win over a Top 2 player this season. She knocked out Aryna Sabalenka from Indian Wells, too.

The 23-year-old showed unnatural composure on Centre Court, navigating the important moments better than her soon-to-be United States Olympic teammate. Navarro forged four break-point opportunities — and converted three of them. She approached the net nine times and won all nine of those points.

“I’m believing that this is possible as it’s happening,” Navarro said. “I’m starting to think, `Why not me? Why not? Why can’t I make a quarterfinal run? Why can’t I go deep in Grand Slams?’ I think I’m coming into that belief as we speak.

“I’ve kind of been just way more comfortable playing on that stage than I would have thought I would have felt. I don’t know, maybe just the accumulation of a lot more experiences on stages like that and in stadiums like that have allowed me to be more comfortable playing in that type of environment. Yeah, kind of just rode the wave of that comfort.”

Like Paolini, Navarro is currently on a tear; after reaching the fourth round at Roland Garros she’s into her first major quarterfinal.

Navarro will have a gameplan for Paolini. Against Gauff, she executed it perfectly, attacking the second serve, winning 13 of 24 points.

“I don’t want her to be comfortable on her second serve,” said Navarro, “consequentially not comfortable on her first serve.”

The biggest reason to like Navarro in this match? She is more than familiar with Paolini’s free-flowing game. Navarro’s beaten her three times in the past 10 months — in San Diego, Doha and Miami. Only one of those matches went three sets.

Navarro maintains perfect record vs. Paolini to make Miami last 16

The Case for Paolini: How dramatically has the 28-year-old Italian changed her Grand Slam narrative? The numbers, quite frankly, are difficult to process:

Before this year, Paolini had compiled a 4-16 record in the four major tournaments. This year she’s a sensational 13-2. Like compatriots Flavia Pennetta and Francesca Schiavone, she has found the touch later in her career.

“A part of me, I didn’t really [believe],” she told reporters after Madison Keys retired from their fourth-round match with the score 6-3, 6-7 (6), 5-5. “But I’m saying it’s a dream to be here. It’s a little bit also strange to be in this position because I never been in this position.

“Now I’m here winning more matches this year. It feels great. It’s also I think a privilege to play those kind of matches in those courts.”

More from Wimbledon:

Paolini won the title at the WTA 1000 in Dubai and had a sensational fortnight in Paris, advancing to the final (beating No.4 Elena Rybakina in the quarterfinals) before falling to World No.1 Iga Swiatek.

Now she’s the first Italian woman to reach the quarterfinals of Roland Garros and Wimbledon during the same season and the third, after Sara Errani and Francesca Schiavone, to reach Slam quarterfinals on two different surfaces in the same season in the Open Era.

“Emma, she plays tennis in a special way,” Paolini said. “She has so fast hands. I love how she plays tennis. It’s going to be tough. But I’m here to be ready, to try to match with them, to try to do a good performance.”

Donna Vekic vs. Lulu Sun

The Case for Vekic: The 28-year-old from Croatia arrived at the All England Club at 8 a.m. on Sunday — and was still talking to reporters 12 hours later. That’s because her 6-2, 1-6, 6-4 victory over Paula Badosa was delayed by rain three different times.

“After the first one, I was up 5-2, 30-Love, so I was pretty relaxed,” Vekic explained. “The second one I was losing 5-1 in the second. I was freaking out. But I was in a way happy that it rained because she was really on a roll. She was playing so well.

“Then in the third set, at 4-3, I was like, `OK, just stay focused, stay warm, be ready to go out there.’ ”

How about that for resilience? The World No.37 called it one of the toughest matches of her career.

This is the second major quarterfinal Vekic has reached with Hall of Famer Pam Shriver in her coaching corner. Shriver texted Vekic during the third delay, reminding her of three previous times she had retained her composure during rain delays.

“The first one was San Diego 20 months ago,” Shriver said afterward. “The second one was first round of this year’s Australian Open, a crazy heat delay, rain delay that she won 7-6 in the third. The last one was here, against Dayana Yastremska, when they moved the match from Court 18 to No.1.

“She handled those so well and got herself across the finish line. I feel like I need to help give her perspective when she’s come through under those maximum stressful conditions.”

Sun’s game, Vekic said, will require some research.

“Obviously she’s playing great tennis,” Vekic said. “I don’t know a lot about her. I think the coaching team will be studying all night to try to get ready for the match on Tuesday.”

The Case for Sun: There hasn’t been a run at a major by a qualifier like this since, well, Emma Raducanu three years ago at the US Open.

Appropriately, it was Raducanu that was on the losing end of their dramatic fourth-round match that ended 6-2, 5-7, 6-2. Playing her first Wimbledon tournament, the 23-year-old representing New Zealand, has won seven straight matches — who can argue with that kind of momentum?

Ranked No.123 before the tournament, Sun is only the second player from New Zealand to reach the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam event, following Belina Cordwell at the 1989 Australian Open. She’ll make her Top 100 debut after Wimbledon, skyrocketing towards the Top 50.

Against Raducanu, Sun was consistently, relentlessly fearless. She swung from her heels more than 100 times — and hit 52 winners. She also moved forward at every opportunity, winning 23 of 28 points at net.

Where’s this courage coming from? It might just be her second-round match in qualifying, when she saved a match point against Gabriela Knutson of the Czech Republic. Up 5-1 in the third, she was broken twice and was serving at 30-40 down 6-5. Eventually, Sun won in a super tiebreaker.

And now she’s playing with house money.

“Vekic is obviously an experienced player,” Sun said. “She’s been on tour for a long while. She’s a good baseliner. She fights really well. She’s made good results in the past. I haven’t watched a ton of matches from her, but I’ve watched some. I’ll probably do that tomorrow.”

Sun’s matter-of-fact attitude will serve her well going forward.

“I think the qualies in general, it’s not that big of a difference in the main draw,” Sun said after beating Raducanu. “In terms of the tennis, we’re not that much different, far off, from the top hundred. It’s just that little you have to get far in some tournaments, obviously in the big tournaments, to make that jump.

“Yeah, I don’t think it’s surprising [that I’m here].”

Watch This: Lulu Sun shines in turning defense into offense

Source: https://www.wtatennis.com/news/4053552/four-first-time-wimbledon-quarterfinalists-set-to-battle-on-tuesday

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