Former world No 1 Angelique Kerber of Germany and Tunisian 3rd seed Ons Jabeur both reached round 3 of Wimbledon in straight sets on Wednesday, while Heather Watson’s match against Wang Qiang was suspended overnight.
I played so many Grand Slams in a row and being here again, I have to say, I’m feeling that I’m the older generation right now, that’s for sure. I really just try to not look at the number and just be here and enjoy my time. And hopefully I have many more matches here this year. Angelique Kerber
Kerber, the 2018 champion eased past Magda Linette, 6-3 6-3, in an hour and 25 minutes on Court No 2 to oust the 65th-ranked Pole and reach the Wimbledon 3rd-round.
“Magda is a tough opponent, we played a few weeks ago so I knew what to expect,” Kerber said on court. “I think it was really important to stay in the moment, playing my game, enjoying my tennis and enjoying the energy on court. It’s really special to be here again.
“When I came here, I have so many great memories, of course winning here in 2018, that was one of my biggest goals and dreams that I achieved.”
Playing her 51st consecutive Grand Slam event this fortnight, the German left-hander has now won 84 matches on grass at tour-level, while against Linette, she fired a backhand cross-court winner to earn a chance for a 5-3 lead, which she converted for the opening set.
A similar scenario occurred in the second, where Kerber deployed another cross-court backhand to grab a pivotal break and lead 4-3, breaking again for good measure in the final game to wrap up the win.
Linette won three-quarters of her points at the net and she fired 34 winners in the match, but Kerber was steadier on the day at key moments, converting 4 of her 13 break points while successfully erasing 4 of the 5 break points she faced.
The 34-year-old Kerber is the 6th oldest player in the women’s draw this fortnight, and her 51 appearances at majors is the second longest streak among active players.
“I really have no idea,” laughed Kerber when asked how she has managed to maintain such longevity at the Grand Slams. “I played so many Grand Slams in a row and being here again, I have to say, I’m feeling that I’m the older generation right now, that’s for sure.
“I really just try to not look at the number and just be here and enjoy my time. And hopefully I have many more matches here this year.”
Meanwhile, Jabeur continued her strong run on grass to reach the 3rd-round at Wimbledon, with an easy 6-4 6-0 victory against 29-year old qualifier Katarzyna Kawa of Poland, ranked 91.
Currently at a career-high world ranking of No 2, Jabeur is a favourite for the title after arriving in London having lifted the WTA 500 trophy in Berlin 2 weeks ago.
The 27-year-old, who reached the quarter-finals here last year, continued her fine form by beating a second qualifier, having taken out Mirjam Bjorklund, a Swedish qualifier in the 1st-round.
Jabeur played aggressively from the start, mixing strong groundstrokes with deft drop-shots to dominate Kawa, who had not played on grass until this year, from the baseline.
After an early trade of service breaks, the Tunisian cracked the Pole’s delivery for a second time in the 9th game, before holding serve to take the opening set.
Kawa started struggling with an apparent shoulder problem in the second, and needed medical attention on court while trailing 3-0 and, although she returned to the court, she failed to offer much resistance.
Jabeur’s march to victory was briefly held off on match point as she needed 5 of them, but the Tunisian, the highest-ranked African player ever, sealed the contest with a strong first serve to set up a meeting next with 77th-ranked Frenchwoman Diane Parry for a place in the 4th-round.
“That was a good match for me after a long wait,” said Jabeur later. “I love grass and playing here.
“I don’t look at the draw much, although I know who’s on my side, obviously.
“I‘ll just keep focusing on myself. I’m loving playing here, and I’m hoping my game will keep improving over the next matches.”
Elsewhere, Maria Sakkari, the No 5 seed from Greece, matched her career-best result at Wimbledon by advancing to the 3rd-round with a 6-4 6-3 defeat of Bulgaria’s Viktoriya Tomova.
Wimbledon is the only major at which Sakkari has yet to make the Round of 16, and standing in her way into the second week is Germany’s Tatjana Maria, who upset 26th-seeded Sorana Cirstea from Romania, 6-3 1-6 7-5.
“I’m just enjoying my game on the grass because there were certain people saying I could never play on the grass, but I believe that I really can because I’m a good mover, I have a good serve,” Sakkari said. “As I said, I’ve been playing more aggressive, so I don’t see why not doing well on this surface.”
Belgium’s Elise Mertens’ streak of 17 consecutive Grand Slam 3rd-rounds remains intact for one more day.
The No 31 seed saved 2 match points against Hungary’s Panna Udvardy before sealing the second-set tiebreak as the light began to fade on Court 16.
Udvardy took the first set 6-3 and Mertens rallied to take the second set 7-6(5) but play was then suspended due to bad light, and the two will come back on Thursday to complete the match.
Play was also suspended between Heather Watson and Wang Qiang, with the Brit leading 7-5, 5-4 and Wang about to serve.
Watson had led 5-2 the second before a strong come-back from Wang put the match back on serve.
The winner will face Slovenia’s Kaja Juvan, who defeated Hungary’s Dalma Galfi, 7-5 6-3.