Shocks continue as Angelique Kerber knocks out Maria Sharapova

Disorientated Serena Williams forced out of doubles

 

Oh. I. Say. Now Maria Sharapova, the favourite, is gone, too. In a women’s competition distinguished by shock results – with incredulity only fractionally lessened by the fact that the exact thing happened last year– the Russian No 5 seed was dramatically taken down by Angelique Kerber. After seven match points, the German No 9 seed came through a rollicking fourth-round match, 7-6, 4-6, 6-4.

It’s anyone’s guess who will win the Wimbledon women’s title now but it will be a player whom no one suspected – and you may not have even heard of – just a week ago. According to the numbers, this was not a dramatic upset: after all, Kerber is the world No 7 and a Wimbledon semi-finalist two years ago. But the 26-year-old German has never beaten a player of Sharapova’s standing on such a grand stage. And this victory demanded that she play that near-perfect, error-free tennis for more than two and a half hours.

It is easy to underestimate Kerber, who in the second round ground down Heather Watson. She has a simpering second serve and is primarily known for her defensive style. But on Centre Court on Tuesday, Sharapova must have felt as if her opponent was a wall. Kerber believes that every point should be cherished and she ran down every one of Sharapova’s brutal, pulverising ground strokes as if it was match point against her.

Over three, long sets, Kerber made just 11 unforced mistakes, compared to 49 from the other side of the net. What is more revealing is that Sharapova actually played quite well. “It’s unbelievable,” Kerber said afterwards. “It was such a tough game, she’s such a great player. I was just fighting out there.”

All the recent talk has been of a revolution in women’s tennis. Neither the Williams sisters nor Li Na, the No2 seed, survived Wimbledon’s first week. The emergence of the 22-year-old Simona Halep and Eugenie Bouchard, 20, hinted that the momentum was with youth. Kerber’s win provides more evidence that the guard is changing and in the quarter-finals on Wednesday she will face Bouchard as the fascinating battle for ascendancy continues.

Meanwhile, five-times champion Serena Williams was forced to retire from her women’s doubles match at Wimbledon on Tuesday because of apparent illness that left her disorientated on court.

The world No 1 looked groggy and was barely able to hit the ball, serving four double faults in a row before finally deciding to quit.

It took the intervention of the umpire, Kader Nouni, to convince the American that it was not worth her carrying on in a second-round match that had already been delayed by 15 minutes after the warm-up, as a tearful Williams consulted doctors.

At one stage, the doctor told her: “If you can’t see the ball, you shouldn’t play”, but Williams, perhaps not wanting to let her sister, Venus, down, tried to play on.

Having been unable to even catch the ball thrown from the ball girls in the warm-up, the 32-year-old barely made contact when she served. The crowd tried to encourage her but at 2-0, 40-0 down to Kristina Barrois of Germany and Stefanie Vögele of Switzerland, Nouni came down from his chair to suggest to the younger Williams sister that she ought to stop.

Williams’s coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, said he had no idea what was wrong, adding that he had not seen her in the two days since her shock defeat by Alizé Cornet of France in the third round of the singles event.

(Guardian Service)

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