Wimbledon recap: Coco Gauff beats Sonay Kartal and Raducanu advances on day five

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Welcome to the Wimbledon briefing, where The Athletic will explain the stories behind the stories on each day of the tournament.

On day five of Wimbledon 2024, the rain moved tennis under the roof, as the electric atmosphere of day four kept crackling.

If you’d like to follow our fantastic tennis coverage, please click here.

Coco Gauff ends British fairytale to set up all-American clash

On the surface, Coco Gauff and Emma Navarro, who play each other in the fourth round on Sunday, don’t appear to have much in common. Other than being from the same country, and on the same Olympic team.

Gauff, 20, and No. 2 in the world, became a star at 15, a prodigy who has been playing on the professional tour for five years. She is already a U.S. Open champion and a French Open doubles champion.

Navarro is three years older than Gauff, but she is a newcomer by comparison. She attended college at the University of Virginia for two years before becoming professional, and is only shooting up the rankings this year.

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Gauff first battled, then blitzed to knock out Kartal 6-4, 6-0. (Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)

As it turns out, Gauff said she has known Navarro from shortly after she started playing competitive tennis. This is what happens when you are a prodigy and you play some years ahead of your age division. “I think we played once in juniors, not even ITF level. I think it was USTA level,” Gauff said after her third-round win over British qualifier Sonay Kartal.

“That’s, like, a long time ago.”

Navarro has taken much of the tour by surprise, but not Gauff, who has become a friend, though not yet a close one. She wasn’t surprised when Navarro won the NCAA college singles title in 2021. Navarro then left the University of Virginia in 2022, when she started racking up wins on the WTA tour. At Wimbledon, she overcame a 0-2 head-to-head against talented Russian Diana Shnaider, winning 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.

“Just growing up with her, I always knew she was very talented and knew her game would translate well on tour,” Gauff said.

“I think she has a very all-court game. Playing her is going to be a tough match. She’s had some good wins this tournament. I don’t expect it to be easy.”

Matt Futterman

Emma Raducanu looks at her past in fourth-round battle with Lulu Sun

On Sunday, Lulu Sun would be forgiven for looking at her fourth-round opponent Emma Raducanu and suddenly thinking about what might be possible.

On the face of it, Sun has little to no chance of actually winning this tournament, having already massively exceeded expectations to get to this point. After all she is a qualifier, ranked outside the world’s top 100, playing in just her second Grand Slam.

Who could possibly win a major with that kind of pedigree? Ok, you see where this is going. And the similarities with Raducanu don’t end there. Both have a Chinese mother and a European father (Romanian in Raducanu’s case, Croatian in Sun’s). Sun also has an English connection, with a stepdad from Devon.

The two don’t know each other but could choose to converse in Mandarin as well as English when they meet at the net ahead of Sunday’s match. Sun is also fluent in French, having grown up in Switzerland and played under the Swiss flag until switching to her native New Zealand earlier this year.

And while Sun said she was aware of the similarities between the two, coming up against the talented leftie on Sunday may also stir memories for Raducanu of her fearless run in New York three years ago. So too her route to the fourth round, beating Greek No. 9 seed Maria Sakkari — her opponent in the U.S. Open semifinal before her famous win in 2021 — 6-2, 6-3.

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Sun is the first woman from New Zealand to reach the Wimbledon fourth round in the Open Era. (Robert Prange / Getty Images)

Charlie Eccleshare

The inevitable Wimbledon washout meddles with popcorn matches

The most rain-affected day of the Championships so far means we had to wait on Friday for the conclusion of a number of men’s matches. One of which was the anticipated battle between Ben Shelton and Denis Shapovalov, which gets upgraded from its Friday Court 3 slot to Court 1 on Saturday. That was held over with Shelton leading 3-2 in the first set, on serve.

Fabio Fognini against Roberto Bautista Agut, which is a game away from going into a fifth set, will also resume on Saturday. As will Jan-Lennard Struff against Daniil Medvedev, with the Russian two sets to one up.

There’s also Ugo Humbert’s match against Brandon Nakashima to finish (the Frenchman is two sets to one up, with the fourth in a tiebreak) in what should be a bumper day of matches on Saturday — assuming the rain stays away.

Charlie Eccleshare

Challenge of the day

Tennis courts have Hawk-Eye. Tennis players? Sometimes not so much.

Wimbledon men’s draw 2024

Wimbledon women’s draw 2024

Tell us what you noticed on the fifth day as things continue…

(Top photo of Coco Gauff: Daniel Kopatsch / Getty Images; Design: Eamonn Dalton for The Athletic)

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