Germany’s Tatjana Maria continued her dream Wimbledon run as she battled from a set down to overcome former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 5-7, 7-5, 7-5 on Sunday and reach the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam for the first time.
It was the biggest victory for the mother of two who came back from maternity leave just under a year ago and she will play fellow German Jule Niemeier in the last eight.
The 25-year-old Ostapenko, who reached the semi-finals at the grasscourt Grand Slam a year after her maiden major title at Roland Garros in 2017, made a wobbly start by surrendering her serve early to trail 1-3.
But the Latvian immediately regained composure to level the scores before switching gears to go ahead 6-5 and took the first set after world number 103 Maria made unforced errors in crucial points.
Maria, at 34 the oldest player left in the women’s draw, had impressed in her stunning straight sets-victory over fifth seed Maria Sakkari in the last round and she hit back from 1-4 down in the next set before forcing a decider.
Having saved two match points in the second set at 4-5 and with the crowd firmly behind her, Maria capitalised on a mistake from 12th seed Ostapenko to go up 6-5 in a see-saw third set before sealing the match on serve.
Federer says he hopes to play Wimbledon ‘one more time’
Earlier in the day, unseeded Czech Marie Bouzkova snapped Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia’s eight-match winning run on grass with a 7-5, 6-2 victory in the fourth round.
Since knocking out American seventh seed Danielle Collins in the opening round, the 23-year-old Bouzkova has grown from strength to strength at the grasscourt Grand Slam where she had never previously got past the second round.
The 66th-ranked Czech had won her only previous match on grass against Garcia who was considered a contender to win Wimbledon this year after her title run at Bad Homburg and a wide open women’s draw.
“If you would tell me before the tournament started I would be in the quarters, I probably wouldn’t believe you,” said Bouzkova, who will next meet either Ons Jabeur, the highest seed remaining in the women’s draw, or 24th seed Elise Mertens.
“Always try to take it match by match. Since first match has been really tough journey for me. Just to be now in the quarters, it’s something very special for me.
“I’m just really proud that I’ve been able to handle everything the way I have and just enjoy the moment.”
With Wimbledon playing a full schedule for the first time on the middle Sunday, Bouzkova broke 55th-ranked Garcia early on Court Two but was broken back in the eighth game.
From 4-5 down in the opening set, however, Bouzkova, who made only four unforced errors in the match, won nine of the next 11 games to seal victory in an hour and 23 minutes.
Bouzkova was forced to withdraw from Roland Garros after testing positive for COVID-19 ahead of her second-round match.
“I’ve actually been feeling really well physically after COVID in Paris,” she told reporters.
“I always like to play on grass. I just know it takes a few days, maybe one or two matches, to get used to it, to make some small changes.”
Niemeier sorry for knocking Watson out of Wimbledon
Up-and-coming German Jule Niemeier knocked Heather Watson out of Wimbledon’s fourth round 6-2 6-4 on Sunday and apologised for disappointing the crowd by beating a home favourite.
Niemeier, 22, used her big serve and skilled net play to great effect, appearing completely at ease despite the Centre Court crowd’s clear support for Watson, who looked tight and anxious.
“I can’t believe it. I want to say sorry I had to kick out a British player today. The atmosphere was incredible…,” Niemeier, playing only her second Grand Slam tournament said.
Playing after Wimbledon staged a Centre Court centenary celebration including a parade of former champions, Niemeier was quickly into her stride, breaking 30-year-old Watson’s serve twice to win the first set.
Watson, playing the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time in 42 attempts, found some rhythm in the second set but, after she served two double faults and was broken in the seventh game, Niemeier’s stranglehold was complete.
The German, ranked 97 and playing at only her second Grand Slam tournament, reached the quarter-finals on her third match point when Watson put a forehand into the net.
ALSO READ |
Wimbledon 2022: Wilander slams toxic atmosphere in Kyrgios-Tsitsipas tussle
“I was nervous – as soon as I stepped on the court I felt pretty confident so I just tried to focus on my game and play point by point. It went well,” Niemeier said. The German will meet compatriot Tatjana Maria in the quarter-finals.
The Dortmund-born player said she was proud to have won a match on Centre Court but had been too nervous to watch the show beforehand.
The ceremony featured more than 20 former champions as well as current men’s trophy holder Novak Djokovic.
Grand Slam record holder Margaret Court took part and there was a surprise appearance by eight-times winner Roger Federer, missing this year’s tournament through injury.
Federer’s suggestion he might compete next year drew a huge cheer as did the arrival of home winner Andy Murray and six times champion Billie-Jean King.
Before the champions trooped on court in the sunshine, 81-year-old singer Cliff Richard reprised his 1963 hit Summer Holiday from the stands, as he had done to entertain the crowd during a rain-soaked day in 1996 – before the stadium had a roof.