Angelique Kerber, the champion in 2018, joined the growing list of quarter-finalists with an impressive win over young pretender Coco Gauff on Centre Court at Wimbledon on Manic Monday.
I really enjoy my time here and it gives me energy to play in front of the Wimbledon crowd and I play my best tennis. I am really looking forward to my next match. I will try and play the tournament match by match I just want to stay in the moment. Angelique Kerber
The German’s greater experience on the grass proved a key factor in quelling the 17-year old’s challenge, although she was made to battle hard to advance in straight sets.
At the age of 33 Kerber has experienced most things in tennis terms and while she has had a bit of a torrid time of late, she has come good on her favourite surface, grass.
The only Wimbledon ladies’ singles champion left in the draw, Kerber has looked at at home here, having warmed up nicely to win the Brad Homburg title coming into The Championships.
Gauff was bidding to become the youngest woman to reach the last 8 since Maria Sharapova in 2004 but within half an hour, Kerber was serving for the first set against a player 16 years her junior after a dizzying series breaks by both.
When the chips were down, however, Kerber held when it most mattered to take the set.
While the American was not playing badly, the left-handed Kerber just refused to give her any breathing space.
She broke Gauff to go 2-1 up in the second and the crowd tried to rally the 17-year-old with cries of ‘Go Coco’ as she rose from her chair to rejoin the battle.
She did carve an opportunity to get back into the set when she held two break points at 3-4, but the German served an ace to save the first one and Gauff played a careless drop-shop into the net from the baseline on the second.
When Gauff sent a forehand into the net, Kerber held the advantage and moved on.
Although Gauff held her next service game, the fight had gone out of her and the German whipped a stunning forehand crosscourt winner to delight the crowd.
She had 3 match points but only needed the one, which she took with an ace to finish an impressive day’s work.
Maybe we should not be surprised. There are only two players with more grass court wins under their belts – the Williams sisters.
“Coco is such a talented player and she has a great future,” said Kerber after applauding her off the court. “I am really sure she will have a great career, and she can win the title here too, at some point.”
Kerber is wary of falling into a trap of projecting herself as on course for a second title.
“I really enjoy my time here and it gives me energy to play in front of the Wimbledon crowd and I play my best tennis,” she said. “I am really looking forward to my next match.
“I will try and play the tournament match by match I just want to stay in the moment.”
Her next match is against Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic for a place in the semi-finals.
Muchova, the No 19 seed, made the quarters for the second year in a row by beating Spain’s No 30 seed Paula Badosa, 7-6(6) 6-4.
The 24-year-old, who is playing in only her second Wimbledon singles main draw, reached the semi-finals at the Australian Open back in February, where she beat No 1 Ash Barty along the way.
Muchova and Badosa played a fairly even match, with the Spaniard going up 3-0 in the first set and holding a break of serve until 5-2, but the Czech turned it all around, winning 3 straight games before prevailing in a tense tiebreak.
In the end, Muchova played a little cleaner, finishing the match with 24 unforced errors, 6 fewer than Badosa.
Two years ago, Muchova lost to Elina Svitolina here in the quarter-finals and is looking to take the next step by raising her career Wimbledon record to 9-1 against Kerber on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, other women advancing to their first Wimbledon quarter-final included No 1-seeded Ash Barty, No 2 Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, Tunisian Ons Jabeur, Karolína Plíšková of the Czech Republic and Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland.
Jabeur became the first Arab woman to reach the quarters by rallying past 2020 French Open champion Iga Świątek, 5-7 6-1 6-1 converting all 7 break point chances and enjoying hearing happy fans singing at the end of her match.
“Tunisians are everywhere, I’ve got to say,” she said with a smile. “They were singing a football song. I felt the need to sing with them.”
Barty was troubled again by a shaky serve but saved 8 of 10 break points and did manage an ace on match point to end French Open champion Barbora Krejčíková’s 15-match win streak, 7-5 6-3.
Barty has yet to play her best in the tournament but remains the favourite to claim her second Grand Slam title.
The Australian won the 2019 French Open and was the Wimbledon girls singles champion in 2011.
“I love coming out here and test myself against the best in the world,” Barty told the crowd. “And there’s certainly no place I’d rather be at the moment.”
Sabalenka earned her first berth in a Grand Slam quarter-final by beating Rybakina 6-3 4-6 6-3, while Plíšková, seeded 8th, has now reached the final 8 at every major after hitting 10 aces and eliminating Liudmila Samsonova 6-2 6-3.
Elsewhere, Golubic ousted No 23 Madison Keys from the USA, 7-6(3) 6-3.