Kerber keeping perspective as seeds continue to tumble

 - Alex Sharp

The highest-ranked player left in the Women’s draw was a finalist at SW19 back in 2016.

Angelique Kerber round of 16 Wimbledon 2018©Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

For the first time ever all Top 10 seeds of the Women’s draw are absent from the quarter-final line-up at Wimbledon.

The opening seven days at SW19 have been simply scintillating with inspired players carving out seismic shocks across the draw.

Now the talk, expectations and focus sharpens on Serena Williams, who has clinched an eighteenth successive singles victory at the All England Club en route to the quarter-finals.

Williams last ruled Wimbledon in 2016 and her opponent in the final was Angelique Kerber.

With the superior seeds sent home, Kerber has been launched into the conversation of title favourites and deservedly so.

The 2010 finalist Vera Zvonareva was dispatched, before Kerber fought back from a set down to Junior champion Claire Liu. An emphatic third round victory over Japanese prodigy Naomi Osaka sent out a signal of intent. 

Angelique Kerber defeats Belinda Bencic in Wimbledon 2018©Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

“I’m trying not to look left or right, just focus on my play, and improve my tennis every single match,” insisted Kerber in press, keen to quell expectations after her 6-3, 7-6(5) win over the resurgent Belinda Bencic on Monday.

“I think everybody who is in the quarters played very good tournament so far. But it's still a long way until the end. I am not feeling the pressure because I am not looking on the seeded or who is left or not. I'm just looking forward for my next match. For every single day that I'm here trying to do my best. This is all I'm focusing on.”

Onto the baseline!

Recovering from a shaky start at 1-3, Kerber’s angles, precision and pace accumulated five consecutive games for the first set honours.

“It was not so easy, especially because I know she's playing very well on grass. She beat me always in the top matches. Today I was just trying to be aggressive,” reflected Kerber, who had a 0-3 record against the Swiss youngster heading onto Centre Court.

“She played well, especially when she was down. She came back in the second set. She had set points. It was a little bit up and downs in the second set. Actually, I'm happy that I'm through in two sets.”

Deep in the second set Kerber chased down a delicate drop shot and scooped the ball past the reach of Bencic and onto the baseline. The perplexed 21-year-old simply laughed, raising her arms towards the player’s box in disbelief.


Belinda Bencic Wimbledon 2018©Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

The two-time Grand Slam champion will need such remarkable retrieval skills to tackle the explosive armoury of 14th seed Daria Kasatkina in the quarter-finals, a player she is locked level with at 3-3 in previous meetings.

It's tough to say because she's playing quite unusual. She's hitting really low on her legs, playing flat. It's really tough to play against her on grass,” explained the fledging Russian, just few weeks following their 6-1, 6-7(3), 7-6(3) clash in favour of Kerber at Eastbourne.

“It's going to be fun for sure, because I will go on one of the big courts in the world to play against one of the best players in the quarter-final of Wimbledon. This is what I'm playing for.”

Roland-Garros quarter-finalist Kasatkina is going to provide a stern interrogation of Kerber’s title credentials, but the 30-year-old is assured in her game back on the luscious lawns of SW19.

“I like to play on grass. I think that I know how to play on the surface. I have so many great matches during the years where I have a lot of nice experience,” claimed the vehemently focused No.11 seed. “That gives me the confidence that I know that I have to be the aggressive one, to play point by point and take the point on my hand.

“But it's a new day, it's a new match, and everything starts from zero tomorrow again.”