The crux of the game: Again and again in this round of 16 at Wimbledon it looked as if Angelique Kerber would buy the guts from her young opponent. For her part, Cori Gauff repeatedly indicated why she had made it to the second round of a Grand Slam tournament again. But when Kerber was able to fend off two breakballs from the 17-year-old American with a score of 4: 3 in the second set and pull away with 5: 3, the decisive moment in this match seemed to have come. Gauff was able to postpone the decision for another game, but afterwards Kerber did not give up a point on his own serve – and ended the match with an ace.
The result: With 6: 4, 6: 4 against Cori “Coco” Gauff Angelique Kerber moves into the quarter-finals. There, number 25 on the seeding list will now meet number 19 seeded Karolina Muchova from the Czech Republic, who won against Spaniard Paula Badosa 7: 6, 6: 4.
First sentence: London, 20 degrees, the sun was shining (sometimes), the wind was blowing – and there wasn’t much in that first sentence. Serves and returns went wrong, but above all serves: the players got five consecutive breaks. But in the first sentence it was Kerber who found her game faster, while Gauff at some point resorted to raw force of butter. Even without the scream, the teen’s frustration was clearly palpable at that moment. Although she managed to fend off a set ball from Kerber, Kerber then converted the second by first forcing a baseline duel on Gauff and then finishing against the direction of her opponent.
If necessary with force: Coco Gauff
AELTC/DAVID GRAY / AFP
All the first times: With Gauff, Kerber met for the third time in this tournament an opponent she had never played against. A difficult situation, as she described before the round of 16. “I have a picture, I know how it plays, I know the technology, the results of the last few months,” said Kerber. But things often turn out very differently on the square. “Only on the court do you feel how fast the ball flies, with what spin, with what twist, and only then do you start reading the opponent’s game.” Of course, every time she gets the opponent analysis pressed into her hand: “But I’m still so young, almost every opponent is new to me anyway,” was all she said.
Experience beats vigor: In general, the experience. In this generation duel it became clear in several places how important all the matches can be in the bones. Kerber, at least almost twice as old as Gauff and the only remaining player over 30 in the field, was able to adapt to the windy conditions more quickly, at the same time she played the points with the necessary calm to the end, while Gauff tried again and again with the quick winner to force the decision. That is one of their biggest weaknesses anyway, said Gauff recently. “I always want to play big, but sometimes it’s enough to just get the ball into the field instead of trying to hit the line,” she said: “I just have to play smarter.”
First sentence: Kerber showed her young opponent how clever and thus efficient she can play in the second set, in which the game got better, despite the persistent wind, the games more competitive and the rallies longer. In those longer rallies in which Kerber Gauff sent along the baseline from one corner to the other, the three-time Grand Slam tournament winner did not take any chances, she simply placed the balls in the field instead of with a targeted artificial shot Angle to risk losing the point.
Wimbledon history repeats itself: There was a déjà vu not only for Gauff, who, like in 2019, when her star rose at Wimbledon, had to leave the place after the round of 16 as a loser. For Kerber, too, history repeats itself here: for the fifth time since 2012, she has made it to the quarter-finals. In 2016 she made it to the finals, in 2018 the lawn specialist won the classic in London. “For me, Wimbledon is a very special tournament,” Kerber says again and again. “The good thing is: I know what it’s like here and I know what’s in store for me.” And indeed: Kerber has not been disturbed by anything so far.
Is Wimbledon history repeating itself? And because Kerber started the grass season so surprisingly strong after first-round defeats in Melbourne and Paris, because she is the only remaining former winner in the field and because after Iga Świątek’s knockout in the round of 16, only three top ten seeded players in In the round of the last eight, the questions are of course asked: Will this year be Angelique Kerber’s comeback year? Kerber would never answer that with a resounding yes. Although the results and the way in which they were achieved speak for it. Kerber, however, prefers the game-to-game-looking answer. And yet she also said: “I gave everything to be ready for it.”