Maria Sharapova loses to Angelique Kerber in fourth round of Wimbledon
LONDON -- Another day, another favorite goes down.
No. 9 Angelique Kerber defeated No. 5 Maria Sharapova 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-4 on Tuesday to advance to her second Wimbledon quarterfinal, finally putting away the 2004 champion on her seventh match point.
Kerber blunted Sharapova with impressive defense and snapped the Russian's 11-match winning streak in three-setters. The 26-year-old German committed only 11 unforced errors compared with 49 for Sharapova, who had a 57-27 advantage in winners.
"It was a really good match on a really high level," Kerber said. "I enjoyed every single moment."
Sharapova's loss leaves No. 3 Simona Halep as the only top-five seed remaining in the draw, which lost No. 1 Serena Williams and No. 2 Li Na in the third round and No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska in the fourth round.
Kerber, a 2012 semifinalist, played inspired tennis to hold off Sharapova. This was an upset but not a shocking one, as Kerber is a former world No. 5 whose game is a more high-powered version of Caroline Wozniacki's, able to play scrambling defense while still gunning for winners when she sees the opening. That's precisely how Kerber frustrated the five-time Slam champion on Tuesday. Kerber lacks a standout weapon, but her anticipation was fantastic and her ability to extend points pressured Sharapova.
"She's a great anticipator of the ball," Sharapova said. "She's one of the best. That's why she's been in the top the last few years. Maybe she hasn't had the best results this year particularly, but she's played on the bigger stages. She's gone far in Grand Slams. There's a reason she does that. She makes you play such a physical match, gets so many balls back, and not just back, but deep and hard and flat."
Kerber, who recorded her first victory over a top-five player at a Grand Slam tournament, will face No. 13 Eugenie Bouchard in the quarterfinals. Bouchard booked her spot on Monday with a 7-6 (5), 7-5 victory over No. 25 Alize Cornet, who had stunned Williams a round earlier. Bouchard is seeking to reach the semifinals of her third consecutive major this year.
Sharapova had dominated her first three matches here and looked poised to make a run at becoming the first player to complete the French Open-Wimbledon double since Williams in 2002. Her draw had opened up, too, with the loss by Williams, a potential quarterfinal opponent who leads the head-to-head 16-2 and hasn't lost to Sharapova in 10 years.
But Sharapova's Wimbledon track record has been spotty since she beat Williams for the title as a 17-year-old a decade ago. Sharapova has made it past the fourth round only once since 2006. Her recent pattern has been to cruise through the first three rounds when the grass is fresh and fast, and stall out in the second week when the surface wears down and gets slower.
"The surface has changed since 10 years ago," Sharapova said. "I don't think we had the rallies that I had with Kerber today 10 years ago against anyone."
On Tuesday, Sharapova's forehand let her down throughout the match and Kerber took advantage. Kerber led 5-3 in the first set before Sharapova rallied to force a tiebreaker. The Russian went ahead 3-1 but hit two poor backhand errors at 4-4 to give Kerber the edge, and the German converted on her first set point.
Sharapova played a cleaner set in the second -- she finished with 18 winners and 11 unforced errors -- to force a third, which Kerber took control of with an immediate break. Sharapova saved one match point while serving at 2-5 and then broke Kerber to get back on serve.
Serving to stay in the match, though, Sharapova quickly fell behind 0-40. She saved each match point dramatically, with pinpoint serving and gutsy hitting toward the lines. But Kerber proved to be just too good in a game that went to deuce five times and featured five match points saved by Sharapova. On her seventh attempt, Kerber prevailed as Sharapova missed a backhand.
Watch match point below: