TENNIS: Pittsburgh native advances to third round at Wimbledon
LONDON — Wild-card entry Alison Riske is one of four women keeping American hopes alive at Wimbledon.
The 126th-ranked Riske, a native of Pittsburgh who played for Peters Township High School as a teenager, reached the third round at a Grand Slam tournament for the first time Friday, beating 44th-ranked Urszula Radwanska of Poland 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
All four American women left in the draw — top-seeded Serena Williams, 17th-seeded Sloane Stephens, Madison Keys and Riske — will be in action today.
While Williams is already a certified tennis star with 16 Grand Slam titles to her credit, Stephens, Riske and Keys are in the early stages of their careers.
“I think it’s wonderful,” said Riske, of the up-and-coming American women advancing together. “I feel like now we have so many players. It’s wonderful to see your friends doing well. We have a support system with each other.”
Riske’s match against Radwanska was delayed by rain Thursday, which means she’ll now play two days in a row.
Today, she’ll take on Kaia Kanepi, who eliminated No. 7 Angelique Kerber 3-6, 7-6 (6), 6-3.
Williams, the reigning Wimbledon champion, will play 42-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm of Japan.
Stephens will complete her third-round match against Petra Cetkovska of the Czech Republic. The match was halted by darkness Friday after the two split sets.
The 52nd-ranked Keys takes on fourth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska, a finalist last year, for a shot to reach a Grand Slam fourth round for the first time.
The American men have not been as fortunate as the women at Wimbledon this year.
For the first time since 1912, a year when no U.S. men entered Wimbledon, there are no American men still in action in the third round.
The 126th-ranked Riske, who turns 23 Wednesday, was 0-5 at major tournaments until advancing at the All England Club when her first-round opponent retired in the third set.
Riske was offered a wild card into the Wimbledon main draw after she reached the Birmingham semifinals as a qualifier two weeks ago.
“If I can play like that here, I feel like I should be able to play like that anywhere,” Riske said. “I just feel like the grass suits my game. I love moving forward, being aggressive. I hope to translate the results from grass on to other surfaces.”
On Friday, Riske broke in the final game, converting her third match point when Radwanska put a backhand into the net.
“I was really nervous, but I tried to keep telling myself that I wasn’t really at Wimbledon,” said Riske, of her strategy in the last game. “I told myself if I was going to lose that last game (with) her serving I was going to do it aggressively.”
Riske won the point on 33 of 48 trips to the net, accumulating a 43-16 edge in winners.
Every match Riske wins is a confidence builder, which she says helps her pursue the right match strategy.
“I just try to play my game, be aggressive, and stay in it until the end,” she said.