Rybakina gets to 15-30, but a serve out wide followed by a clean-up forehand takes Tomljanovic to within two points of the lead. Another big serve follows, then Rybakina goes wide with a forehand return, and that’s the set, 6-4. She’s much the better player so far while, on Centre, Anisimova blazes a forehand that forces Halep to slip, but she nevertheless consolidates her break to lead 3-1.
On Anisimova, our resident coach is back, Calvin Betton saying that “Anisimova is good. Been saying that a few years. Beautiful ball striker, good brain, great BH. She just enjoys socialising quite a lot.”
Consecutive aces help Rybakina to 40-0, and though Tomljanovic wins a couple of points, another big serve forces her opponent to serve out the set at 5-4. Meanwhile, a careless forehand from Anisimova drops long, handing Halep a break point, and she snaffles it in short oder to lead 2-1.
Anisimova secures a quick hold in the first game of the match and Halep does likewise, as Tomljanovic plays a superb game for 5-3. She’s moving beautifully, keeping really low, punishing the ball and running everything down. Rybakina will now serve to stay in the set.
A much-needed love hold for Rybakina, making 3-4, but can she find anything on the Tomljanovic serve?
It’s not going great for Rybakina – like Norrie yesterday, she doesn’t seem to be feeling the ball. And unlike Norrie, she doesn’t have a best of five’s scope to find herself, so needs to get going quickly. In the meantime, another easy hold gives Tomljanovic 4-2.
Leading 40-30, Rybakina doesn’t wobble, clouting an ace down the middle for 2-3 while, on Centre, Halep and Anisimova are out. This could well be the match of the day, and though Anisimova has a decent chance, Halep has battered everyone she’s played, and she’s played proper players – Muchova, Frech, Flipkens and Badosa.
Tomljanovic is the more consistent player so far, calm and focused – she’s serving well and also making sure to force Rybakina into playing an extra shot when behind in the rally. But from 40-0, two errors give her opponent a sniff only for Rybakina to shank a backhand. Three games in a row for tomljanovic, and a 3-1 lead.
Rybakina is settling. On 30-all, she has the chance to hit a backhand winner and, very deliberately, doesn’t schmeiss the cover off it but guides it sensibly into the corner. But a decent return from Tomljanovic takes us to deuce – she’s not waiting to be asked here, another player determined to attack what might be a fleeting opportunity. Or maybe, given she also made this stage last term, I’m being unfair, and some baseline hitting earns her the first break point fo the match … and when Rybakina hits what should be a comfy put-away right at her, she’s a chance … but can’t control her backhand riposte. no matter: a poor forehand from Rybakina flies long and wide, giving her another go, but Rybakina plays her best rally of the match so far, whamming forehands before administering the drop. But when she doesn’t do enough with a volley, Tomljanovic hoists a lob for a clean winner – that’s a lovely shot – except when a big serve opens the court, Rybakina again picks the side her opponent is on, and a get on the stretch defeats her leap at an overhead. Tomljanovic breaks and leads 2-1.
Leading 15-0, Rybakina sends Tomljanovic scurrying to retrieve and looks set to win the point, but again, Tomljanovic finds a backhand, doing brilliantly to arc it beyond the substantial wingspan of the 6” Rybakina, coming in, for a clean winner. She holds to love, and that’s 1-1.
Lovely start from both players, Rybakina disbursing a huge serve, then Tomljanovic ramming a brilliant backhand return down the line for a huge winner. Rybakina then goes long on the backhand – that won’t help her nerves – but she responds well, winning three quick points for 1-0.
Righto, here we go! Rybakina to serve…
The two are knocking up in an overcast court. It’s almost time.
But under way first we’ve got Tomljanovic v Rybakina on No1 Court, and I must say it’s hard to see a way through for the former. Rybakina will, I think, have the advantage in every technical department, and though Tomljanovic is more experienced, Rybakina is a blue-chip talent who believes this is her stage.
A fact I did not know: Anisimova has hit 108 winners so far this fortnight, more than anyone else in the competition. Her win over the in-form Coco Gauff was especially impressive – she lost the first set 7-6, then won the second and third 1 and 2. She played Halep last month and lost 1 and 2, but has Darren Cahill, Halep’s former on/off coach in her corner, and if anyone can come up with a winning gameplan, it’s him.
Ons Jabeur  v Tatjana Maria, Novak Djokovic  v Cameron Norrie ; we all had these as our first two semi-finals, right? Of course we did, just as we knew that come today, we’d be watching Simona Halep  v Amanda Anisimova , Ajla Tomljanovic v Elena Rybakina , Taylor Fritz  v Rafael Nadal and Cristian Garín v Nick Kyrgios.
There was something really special about yesterday’s matches, all four going the distance with all four winners coming from behind – and it’s no coincidence that of the eight players we saw, only two will have expected to be involved at the quarter-final stage. As a consequence, we got the frantic desperation of those seeking to seize an opportunity that may never come their way again, the ravenous rabidity of others looking to make a career-defining breakthrough – and an all-time great shaping his legacy by haranguing himself in the khazi.
The same is so of today. Tomljanovic and Garín, fine players both, may never reach this stage again; Rybakina is a monstrous talent seeking to announce herself to the world; with Fritz, Anisimova and Kyrgios lying somewhere in between. Then, if to that we add Nadal, probably and improbably halfway to a grand slam, and Halep, a former champion of fragile brilliance fighting back after injury, we have ourselves a flammable gumbo of everything that makes sport – and Wimbledon in particular – so thrillingly and ludicrously compelling.
Play: No1 Court 1pm BST, Centre Court 1.30pm BST