Angelique Kerber, the 2018 Wimbledon champion, produced a superb display to beat American teenager Coco Gauff 6-4, 6-4 in 1 hour and 16 minutes to reach the quarter-finals on Monday.
The 33-year-old German former world number one fell out of love with the game for a spell but is back in the form she showed in 2018.
Kerber, the only Wimbledon women’s champion remaining in the draw, will play Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic for a place in the semi-finals.
For Gauff, 17, it was defeat at the same stage she exited two years ago when she won the hearts and minds of the Wimbledon crowd aged just 15.
The first set was a dizzying series of each player breaking the other’s serve but Kerber held when it most mattered to take the set.
Kerber broke Gauff to go 2-1 up in the second set and the crowd tried to rally the 17-year-old with cries of ‘Go Coco’ as she rose from her chair to rejoin battle.
Gauff did have an opportunity to get back into the set and the match when she held two break points at 3-4.
However, Kerber served an ace to save the first one and Gauff played a careless drop shop into the net from the baseline to allow Kerber back to deuce.
Gauff sent a forehand into the net to give Kerber advantage and the German held.
– ‘ Momentum changes’ –
Though Gauff held her next service game the fight had gone out of her and the German still had time for one more delicious whipped forehand crosscourt winner to delight the crowd.
“Coco is such a talented player and she has a great future,” said Kerber.
“I am really sure she wll have a great career and she can win the title here too at some point.”
Kerber is way too experienced and canny a player to fall into the trap of projecting herself as being on course for a second title.
“I really enjoy my time here and it gives me energy to play in front of the Wimbledon crowd and I play my best tennis,” she said.
“I am really looking forward to my next match. I will try and play the tournament match by match I just want to stay in the moment.”
Coco Gauff is disappointed she could not go further than the Last 16 but is confident she could do something big at the Olympics in Tokyo
For Gauff it was a disappointing end to her singles campaign on her return to the tournament where she had made such an impact.
However, while the messages that flowed from the likes of former first lady Michelle Obama did not figure this time, Gauff believes she is well into the next stage of her career and converting her talent into major trophies.
“I just feel like I’m close,” she said. “Always competitive in these matches against these top players, making the second week.
“I have to notice when the momentum changes and how to react to when it changes.”
Gauff, though, says there is no reason why she could not go all the way at the Olympics in Tokyo.
“The Olympics, I mean, I’m super confident,” she said. “I feel like I’m there.”
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