Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina reached the Wimbledon quarter-finals for the first time on Monday and confidently declared: “I have a gift”.
The Russian-born 17th seed defeated Croatia’s Petra Martic 7-5, 6-3.
Rybakina, who switched nationality to Kazakhstan in 2018, has made the last eight without dropping a set.
Standing at an impressive six feet (1.84 metres) tall, Rybakina, who still lives in Moscow, has pounded 29 aces at the tournament so far.
In Monday’s win over Martic on Court One, she also unleashed the second-fastest serve of the tournament — 122 miles (196 kilometres) per hour.
When under siege, she has saved 17 of 23 break points over four rounds.
“I never compared myself with anyone. I just know that I have this gift. I’m tall and I play really fast,” said Rybakina.
“It’s effortless, I would say. It’s not something I’m working in the gym or something. This is my weapon, and I’m just trying to use it as much as I can.”
The 23-year-old will be playing in her second Grand Slam quarter-final, having also reached the last eight at the French Open in 2021.
Despite her powerful game, Rybakina struggled in the build-up to Wimbledon, winning just one of three grass-court matches.
“This year I would say that I didn’t start well. I was not so confident because I didn’t have good preparation. I was injured, got sick in Paris, and I couldn’t recover,” said Rybakina.
“But maybe I was more relaxed. I’m still more relaxed, enjoying my time here.”
Rybakina will face either Alize Cornet of France or Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic for a place in the semi-finals.