A TOP ten hasn’t been rendered this irrelevant since that time Ed Sheeran commandeered 16 of the top 20 spots in the pop charts, writes Stewart Fisher. When Karolina Pliskova tumbled out of Wimbledon to Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands yesterday lunchtime by a 6-3, 7-6 (1) scoreline, it meant the ten women regarded as most likely to win had been scattered to the wind. For the first time in the history none of the top ten will be her on quarter final day.

One thing the seedings committee did get right, mind you, was using their discretion to insist that Serena Williams, returning from the birth of her first child Olympia, and the pectoral injury which saw her withdraw during the French Open, was the No 25th seed this year. If anything that ranking seemed modest as the seven-time Wimbledon winner cruised into a last eight meeting against Italy’s Camila Giorgi with a 6-2, 6-2 win against qualifier Evgeniya Rodina. The Russian perhaps wonders what all the fuss is all about – she and her husband Denis Shteyngart also have a daughter, Anna, born in November 2012.

So who, if anyone, is left in the draw who can stop Serena? Well, going by the rankings, Angelique Kerber, the flinty German who has two Grand Slams on her resume and who she met in the final here in 2017. Pitted against an opponent in Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic who had defeated her on all three of their previous meetings, Kerber showed the kind of resolve which has been noticeably absent among the top names in the draw, digging deep to close out a 6-3, 7-6 (5) win. “I am not feeling the pressure because I am not looking into who is seeded or who is left or not,” said Kerber, who now faces Daria Kasatkina of Russia, the conqueror of Belgium’s Alison van Uytvanck. “Everybody who is in the quarters has played a very good tournament so far. But it’s still a long way until the end.”

Another former Grand Slam winner gathering momentum is Jelena Ostapenko. Last year’s Roland Garros winner went further than her Latvian countryman Ernests Gulbis could when recovering from a break down to take care of Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus 7-6 (4), 6-0. She said a code violation warning for on-court coaching had helped fire her up considering she heard nothing. “Actually that code violation made me more motivated and angry, and I started to play better.”

Over on Court No 18, Juan Zhang of China was another chair umpire having a bad day. She baffled everyone by awarding a point to Dominika Cibulkova when Su-Wei Hsieh returned a ball into the court which was called out but challenged and shown to have landed on the line. While the super-aggressive Slovak marched on to a meeting with the Latvian, not before she spoke her mind about the umpire who, after six minutes of to and froing, correctly changed her mind as she couldn’t ‘remember’ what happened. “They were talking in Chinese, whatever language,” said Cibulkova. “Is it my fault you don’t remember if she hit the net or put it on my side?”