Wiser Kerber At Home On Wimbledon Centre Court

Angelique Kerber (photo: Wimbledon video)

LONDON/WASHINGTON, July 5, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

On the final Manic Monday at the Wimbledon Championships, a day filled with plenty of intriguing matchups and results, one that had popcorn potential – between former No. 1 and 2018 Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber and American teenage phenom Coco Gauff – went to the wiser, more experienced German. Final score: Kerber defeated Gauff, 6-4, 6-4, in 76 minutes, to reach her fifth Wimbledon quarterfinal and first Grand Slam last eight since winning Wimbledon three years ago.

At age 17, Gauff was trying to become the youngest woman to reach a Wimbledon quarterfinal since Maria Sharapova in 2004. Despite losing, she received props from Kerber.

“Coco is such a great, talented player and, sure, she’s a newcomer with such a great future in front of her,” Kerber said of the 20th seed Gauff. “I am sure she will have a great career and that she will play here many times, and maybe one tie she will get the title because I like how she is playing, how she is so professional.”

The 33-year-old, 25th seed Kerber has been at home on grass the past few weeks, first winning the Bad Homburg Open in Germany, where she seemed to rediscover her enthusiasm for tennis. Then, Kerber reached the second week at Wimbledon, where she’s defeated Nina Stojanovic, Sara Sorribes Tormo and and Aliaksandra Sasnovich, and now Gauff, who was playing just her third grass-court tournament. Kerber has won nine straight matches on grass – and, perhaps, best of all is this: she’s smiling on the court again and showing confidence in her abilities.

Kerber hit 20 winners and converted four of five break points against Gauff, who finished with six aces and 25 winners but committed 27 unforced errors. Kerber outpointed Gauff 65-57.

“I am really looking forward to playing my next match tomorrow because this is such a magical place for me and I will try to do my best,” Kerber said during a Centre Court interview following her win.

“I like to play match by match and, you know with every single match I am here to win, but I’m not looking too much ahead. I try to stay in the moment, enjoy every single moment. It’s great to be back here.”

Next up for Kerber, she will face No. 19 seed Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic, who eliminated No. 30 seed Paula Badosa of Spain, 7-6 (6), 6-4.

The first meeting between Muchova and Badosa lasted an hour and 33 minutes on Court 12. Muchova, who has reached the quarterfinals in consecutive Wimbledon appearances, hit 21 winners against the Roland-Garros quarterfinalist Badosa, who finished with 16.

“I really like to play on grass,” Muchova said during press. “Then the club, the people, and everything, it’s just really nice here. I’m really happy I made it again, and I will try to go further this time.”

A coming of age victory for Auger-Aliassime

Felix Auger-Aliassime‘s rain-interrupted 6-4, 7-6 (6), 3-6, 3-6, 6-4 victory over No. 4 seed over Alexander Zverev was like a coming of age experience for the 20-year-old, 16th-seeded Canadian from Montreal.

Auger-Aliassime’s triumph, which took four hours and two minutes to attain, earned him his first Grand Slam quarterfinal berth and he became just the fifth Canadian to reach the Wimbledon quarterfinals – and the second this fortnight along with Denis Shapovalov. He did so by coming back from 2-4 down in the first two sets and didn’t seem affected by the nearly-30-minute rain delay to close the roof over No. 1 Court. Auger-Aliassime fired 17 aces and hit 54 winners to 51 unforced errors.

Meanwhile, Zverev was done in by 20 double faults and five breaks of his serve. He hit 47 winners and committed 42 unforced errors. Auger-Aliassime outpointed Zverev 162-159.

“It’s a dream come true, I’m just a normal guy from Canada,” Auger-Auliassime expressed during his on-court interview that followed his victory over the World No. 6 from Germany.

“It’s the biggest victory of my life. Under a closed roof the atmosphere was amazing and I’m living this win with you.”

Auger-Aliassime improved to 10-2 on grass and next will play No. 7 seed Matteo Berrettini on Wednesday. They played each other in the MercedesCup final in Stuttgart two years ago, won by Berrettini 6-4, 7-6 (11).

“It sounds great to be in the quarterfinals, against a good friend of mine, one of the best players in the world,” said Auger-Aliassime, who improved to 10-2 on grass with his Monday victory. “I think it will be exciting and I will attempt to play my best tennis.”

Federer oldest to reach Wimbledon quarterfinals

Roger Federer is no stranger to Wimbledon. In this, his 22nd year of playing in The Championships, the Swiss superstar became the oldest player at age 39 to reach the Wimbledon quarterfinals in the Open Era (since 1968) following his 7-5, 6-4, 6-2 victory over No. 23 seed Lorenzo Sonego of Italy in two hours and 11 minutes on Centre Court.

Federer hit 32 winners to 26 unforced errors and controlled play around the net by winning 29 of 46 attempts. Overall, Federer outpointed Sonego 103-83, which included converting five of 15 break-point opportunities. It all added up to Federer advancing to his 18th Wimbledon quarterfinal appearance and 58th Grand Slam quarterfinal overall.

“I’m extremely happy,” Federer said during an on-court interview. “Tricky conditions inside and outside against Lorenzo, always dangerous. But I felt like after that first set, I was able to control things. It was a great match. I couldn’t be more excited to be in the quarters. It’s a big moment and I’m very, very happy.”

Meanwhile, Federer’s opponent is still to be determined. That’s because the match between No. 2 seed Daniil Medvedev of Russia and No. 14 seed Hubert Hurkacz of Poland on No. 2 Court was suspended in the fourth set due to rain and will be resumed on Tuesday on Centre Court beginning at 1:30 p.m. local time. Medvedev was leading 6-2, 6-7 (2), 6-3, 3-4 at the time the match was interrupted at 6:35 p.m.

When Federer was asked about the rain-affected match between Medvedev and Hurkacz during his on-court interview, he said: “You’re not happy about it. It’s not fair, but that’s how it goes. I’ve been in those situations many times before. These guys are young, they can recover. It’s not a problem for them. Unfortunately, they’re very, very good, too, so hopefully it rains against tomorrow! I’m kidding, I’m kidding.”

Raducanu’s Cinderella run ends by retirement

British teenager Emma Raducanu, whose Cinderella run during the Wimbledon Championships captivated tennis lovers around the world, ended her fourth-round match against Ajla Tomljanovic by retirement on No. 1 Court with the roof closed Monday evening. The No. 75 Tomljanovic from Australia was ahead 6-4, 3-0 when the 18-year-old Raducanu received a medical time out after 75 minutes of play.

The 338th-ranked Raducanu was escorted off the court by medical staff and did not return. An announcement regarding the retirement was made by the chair umpire.

Later, Wimbledon confirmed that Raducanu’s retirement was due to breathing difficulties.

Tomljanovic won the 50-minute opening set after breaking Raducanu’s serve in the 10th game. The match had been fairly even until it stopped in Tomljanovic’s favor, up a break early in the second set. Now, Tomljanovic is into her first Grand Slam quarterfinal and will face World No. 1 and top seed Ashleigh Barty on Tuesday in an all-Australian quarterfinal.

Raducanu was attempting to become just the third wild card to reach a Wimbledon women’s quarterfinal.

“I’m actually really shocked,” said Tomljanovic, 28, during her on-court interview. “It’s obviously is bitter-sweet. Emma must be really hurt if she came to the decision to retire. To play as a Brit at home is unbelievable, so I’m really sorry for her. I wish we could have finished it. It’s sport, it happens. I’m really wishing her all the best.

“The beginning of the match was really nervous from both sides, but at the end of the first set we started playing some really good tennis. I felt I found my groove and was playing well in the second set. But if Emma was hurt and not at her best, it kind of explains it.

“Because of the circumstances, it hasn’t sunk in that I’m in the quarters. But to be playing Ash, two Aussies, with one of us sure to go to the semis – it’s great. I think everyone back home is really happy. I’m thrilled to play Ash. It will be a great match.”

Monday’s Wimbledon results

Tuesday’s Wimbledon order of play

By the numbers

“Quotable …”

“It was a process. At the beginning, I didn’t have a lot of power, so it was tough to get the timing right, because they could really attack my backhand. And now, it’s my best shot, I would say. … And for grass, it’s perfect, I think.”

Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland, who reached her first Grand Slam quarterfinal with her victory over Madison Keys at Wimbledon on Monday, on describing her switch to a single-handed backhand as a pre-teen.