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Elena Rybakina vs. Anna Kalinskaya

Rybakina became the tournament favorite on Saturday, for three reasons. First, the top seed, Iga Swiatek, was toppled by Yulia Putintseva. Second, Rybakina made a statement with her 6-0, 6-1 annihilation of former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki. Third, she’s now the only player left in the draw who has won Wimbledon before.

If you know anything about tennis, you might ask: Will all of that make her start to get tight? It’s possible. Rybakina has had some big opportunities at majors over the past two years, when it also looked like she was had an inside track to the title, and she hasn’t cashed in.

More important, she’s only 1-1 against her fourth-round opponent, Kalinskaya, in completed matches. Both took place last year, and both went three sets. So Kalinskaya can handle the Rybakina power, and she also happens to be having a career year. She’s into the Top 20, and was one point from winning a grass-court title in Berlin two weeks ago. As Rybakina said on Saturday, in her usual understated way, “I think she’s pretty confident now.”

But this is Wimbledon, and Rybakina is the favorite to win it for a reason. Winner: Rybakina

Fritz is back in a familiar position: facing a higher-ranked European from his generation, in a middle round at a major.

Fritz is back in a familiar position: facing a higher-ranked European from his generation, in a middle round at a major.

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Taylor Fritz vs. Alexander Zverev

There was some debate in the interview room on Saturday about whether the 27-year-old German and the 26-year-old American have similar games—Fritz emphasized the similarities, while Zverev brought up the differences. We can say a few things for sure: Their primary weapons are their serves; Zverev hits his backhand more offensively; Fritz likes to attack more overall; and Zverev, the better mover, is more comfortable grinding.

They have a long history against each other, dating back to juniors. As pros, they’ve played eight times since 2016, and Zverev has won five. More telling for our purposes, Zverev is 2-0 against Fritz at Wimbledon. They met here in 2018 and 2021, and Zverev won in four competitive-but-convincing sets both times.

“It’s always entertaining,” Zverev says of their matches. “It’s always fun. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

Zverev is 2-0 against Fritz at Wimbledon, winning in four competitive-but-convincing sets both times.

Zverev is 2-0 against Fritz at Wimbledon, winning in four competitive-but-convincing sets both times.

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Does Zverev sound like a man who is confident of his chances? It wouldn’t be a surprise. He has played some of the best tennis of his career recently in winning Rome and nearly winning Roland Garros. His confidence was evident again in his 17-15 tiebreaker win over Cam Norrie, in his last match. Multiple times during that breaker, Norrie had the lead and the crowd sounded ready to explode—only to see Zverev find the clutch shot he needed to keep it going, and eventually win it.

As for Fritz, he’s back in a familiar position, facing a higher-ranked European from his generation, in a middle round at a major. Typically, this is when he packs his bags. Perhaps, this time, he can take hope from his performance at the Australian Open, when he beat another higher-ranked European, Stefanos Tsitsipas, to advance to the quarters.

To do it again, he’ll likely have to redline for three sets. I don’t think he can rally his way past Zverev, especially on this surface, or wait for him to make mistakes. The German just isn’t making enough of them these days. Winner: Zverev

Novak is testing his “no limits” philosophy again

Novak is testing his “no limits” philosophy again

A new biography presents a stout defense of the Slam king and his famously far-out pursuits.

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Novak Djokovic vs. Holger Rune

At a recent Australian Open, Djokovic was carrying a leg injury into the tournament. He moved gingerly through the early rounds, as the tennis world speculated about how far and how long he could push himself. Then, at a certain point, it became clear that Djokovic’s injury was helping mentally—by lowering the stakes of a defeat—than it was hurting him physically. He won the title.

If he can beat Rune in this fourth-rounder, will we start to think the same thing about his left knee?

So far Djokovic hasn’t been at his best. His movement is hampered slightly, and he’s hitting some balls late. He has dropped two sets in three matches, but he’s surviving and advancing. Against Rune, though, that probably won’t be enough.

👉 WHAT'S THE BEST BET IN NOLE/RUNE? Pick of the Day

Djokovic leads Rune 3-2 in their head-to-head, and while the Serb has won the last two, both matches went to three sets, and featured multiple tiebreakers. Rune has had something of a disappointing season, and he had to go five to beat Quentin Halys in his last match. But he has the physicality to stay with Djokovic, and he’s one of the rare opponents who comes at him with the confidence that he can win.

“I think he's a very all-around player,” Djokovic says of Rune. “He can play equally fast and well and aggressive, both aggressive and defensive from both corners, forehand, backhand. All surfaces.”

Despite all of that, and despite his recovering knee, I won’t pick against Djokovic, who hasn’t lost before the final here since 2017. Winner: Djokovic