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Kalinskaya continues surge at Wimbledon by keeping cards close to her chest

LONDON — Throughout the twists, turns and rain delays of Anna Kalinskaya’s 7-6(4), 6-2 win over Liudmila Samsonova to reach the fourth round of Wimbledon for the first time, the No.17 seed gives nothing away.

 

 

 

 

Wimbledon 2024: Scores | Draws | Order of play

Rain means that the match starts two hours later than planned; just half an hour in, with Kalinskaya up 4-2, another shower forces the players off court for another hour. When they return, Samsonova saves a set point and hits one of her blistering hot streaks to go up 6-5 — but Kalinskaya gathers herself to force a tiebreak and roll to victory from there. At no point does her poker face break into any visible emotion.

“It was tough mentally,” Kalinskaya said afterwards. “My goal was just to stay calm and use my opportunity when I can. If she hits a great shot, I can only stay calm and see how the next point goes.”

Kalinskaya plays her cards close to her chest off court, too. The 25-year-old is in the midst of a career-best season which started with her first Grand Slam quarterfinal at the Australian Open, a result she backed up by reaching her first two WTA finals in Dubai and, two weeks ago, on the grass of Berlin. To Kalinskaya, the improvement in her results can be explained simply.

“I’m more healthy,” she said. “I’m more consistent. More aggressive.”

In recent weeks, Kalinskaya’s private life has also been the subject of more media interest; at Roland Garros, Jannik Sinner confirmed they were in a relationship, and the ATP No.1 was in the Court 18 stands watching her victory over Samsonova. But to Kalinskaya, the subject is off limits.

“I try to keep [my private life] private, as much as I can,” she said. “For me that’s very important. I can’t control it completely, but I try my best.”

In an age of social media, and in which celebrities across every field have found that revealing details of their relationships is an effective means of boosting their profiles, has Kalinskaya ever felt a similar pressure? Once again, her answer, with an ironic raised eyebrow, is a firm “no” — and in 2024, such strong boundaries must be applauded.

Who will make the Wimbledon semifinals from the second quarter of the draw?

[4] Elena Rybakina

[17] Anna Kalinskaya

[21] Elina Svitolina

In any case, the focus should be on Kalinskaya’s own career surge. It hasn’t remotely come as a shock to her. In Melbourne, her defeat of Jasmine Paolini to make the quarterfinals wasn’t greeted by falling to the ground, throwing her hands in the air or any display of emotion. Instead, the former junior No.3 reacted as if she’d expected it all along.

“Yes, I believe in myself,” she said. “It wasn’t a surprise at all. I’ve beaten good players. I know I can do it and I have confidence.”

Qualifier Kalinskaya stuns No.1 Swiatek in Dubai semifinals.

The daughter of two badminton players and the sister of footballer Nikolay Kalinsky, Kalinskaya had her pick of three sports as a child. Her decision was easy, in the end: swimming bored her, and she describes badminton as “very fast, too much cardio” with a shudder. Tennis, she found, was played at the perfect tempo for her.

Kalinskaya credits Tarabini, who reached a career-high of No.29 in 1988, with her slow and steady progress since they began working together in 2019. Tarabini, a quintessential Argentinian clay-courter of that era, has helped the flat-hitting Kalinskaya develop patience and variation in her game without taking her too far from her first-strike instincts.

“She’s a very positive coach and very funny, but at the same time very professional, which is important,” Kalinskaya said. “We know each other so well — if there’s any question I have I completely trust her.”

And if Tarabini makes any good-natured jokes at her expense, Kalinskaya can give as good as she gets.

“Well, I’m sorry for her, but I just beat her record,” she said. “She only won one match [at Wimbledon]!”

Kalinskaya has now won three this year alone, and will next face No.4 seed Elena Rybakina in a bid to reach a second major quarterfinal this year. She’s known Rybakina since they were both 12 years old, and though their official head-to-head lists two wins apiece, the most recent was a retirement by Kalinskaya, who leads their completed matches 2-1.

“Every match was very difficult,” she said. “I know she likes grass, but I love grass now too.”

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