Kerber Battles Into The Second Week At Wimbledon

Kerber defeats Sasnovich 2-6, 6-0, 6-1 to reach Wimbledon round of 16

Angelique Kerber from Germany, is a three-time grand slam champion, her last on the grass at the All England Club in 2018. The thirty-three-year-old former #1 is the only former champion remaining in the draw.

Currently ranked #28 and seeded twenty-five, the lefty from Bremen has been brimming with confidence having recently won a grass court tournament, her first title in three years. She dug deep to reach the third round, having gone the distance against the seemingly impenetrable Spaniard, Sara Sorribes Tormo.

Aliaksandra Sasnovich had an easier time reaching the third round as her first-round opponent Serena Williams, was forced to retire after six games due to a leg injury. The twenty-seven-year-old from Belarus is currently ranked #103 but in 2018 reached a career-high of #30 due in large part to her fourth round showing at Wimbledon.

This was their first tour-level meeting. Sasnovich won the toss and elected to receive. Kerber quickly went down 0-40 as Sasnovich struck two backhand winners on consecutive points and dumped serve when she netted a makeable backhand.

Sasnovich donated a double fault but unleashed on the forehand to consolidate the break for 2-0. She continued to unfurl on that side hitting a fantastic forehand down the line return winner and broke for a second time when Kerber committed groundstroke errors on consecutive points.

Sasnovich played fearlessly while Kerber remained tentative. The Belarusian ripped the ball off both wings while she served big and bold including an ace up the tee on game point for a commanding 4-0 lead.

Kerber appeared gobsmacked but got on the board as she began to find her range off the forehand. Sasnovich opened with a double fault but held to 15 for 5-1 with an ace out wide.

Kerber maintained her focus and quickly reached 40-0 before rain interrupted play for approximately 1 ¾ hour. When play resumed, Sasnovich took the first point with a brilliant backhand down the line, but Kerber secured the game when her opponent’s return sailed long.

Sasnovich continued to serve well and go for her shots. Although she gifted another double fault, she threw in another ace and clinched the set when Kerber’s backhand return went wide.

Kerber served first in the second and despite missing 4/8 first serves including a double fault, struck an ace and held for 1-0. Sasnovich began to misfire off the ground, donating four unforced errors including a double fault and dropped serve.

Kerber, now clearly swinging with abandon, consolidated the break with multiple backhand and forehand winners. Sasnovich was unable to reclaim the momentum she garnered in the opening set and dropped serve again following multiple forehand errors and a poorly executed drop shot.

The 2018 Wimbledon champion consolidated the break for 4-0 with a love hold. Sasnovich served to stay in the set but could not get on the board. She gifted Kerber another double fault and after three deuce and two break points, lost serve and the set 2-6.

Kerber served first in the third and held at love for 1-0. Sasnovich missed 3/6 first serves but held to 30 following two incredible forehand drop shot winners on consecutive points.

Kerber continued to compete and serve better, striking another ace as she held to 30 for 2-1. Sasnovich faced triple break point as her level continued to drop and dumped serve when she overcooked a forehand.

Kerber, not known for her serve, struck three aces, the last out wide on game point for 4-1. Sasnovich committed multiple errors from the baseline and forecourt and dropped serve as Kerber continued to pummel the forehand.

Kerber quickly reached triple match point and secured her place in the 4th round with her 6th ace. It was a remarkable turnaround from an accomplished, assured champion. Kerber finished with 6 aces to 2 double faults and won 80% on first and 47% on second serve points. She converted 5/9 break points, won 8/8 at the net and struck 22 winners to just 7 unforced errors.

She should be quite pleased with her performance but there is always room for improvement. Her serve is the weakest link and being a lefty, should be more of a weapon, especially on grass.  

She must do better on second serve points won if she hopes to advance to the quarterfinals. On Monday she will battle the 17-year-old American Coco Gauff for the first time. The #20 seed advanced to her second consecutive round of 16 appearance at the Championships and has not dropped a set thru three rounds.

(photo credit: Getty Images)

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