Angelique Kerber, the only former Wimbledon champion left in the 2021 draw, overcame a set deficit against Aliaksandra Sasnovich to advance to week two. Later, Ajla Tomljanovic rallied from a set and a break down to oust Jelena Ostapenko in a hard-fought encounter. No.25 seed Kerber extended her winning streak to eight with a 2-6, 6-0, 6-1 win over Sasnovich. On the other hand, Tomljanovic produced a remarkable fightback to beat Ostapenko 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 and reach the fourth round of a major for the second time.
Having benefited from Serena Williams’s retirement in the first round, World No.100 Sasnovich started brightly against another Wimbledon champion to win the opening set without much difficulty. The German, however, regrouped to win the second set in the utmost dominant fashion. The third set was not different either as Kerber lost only one game in the final two sets combined. She ended a three-year title drought on home soil in Bad Homburg last week and has now won eight straight matches for the first time since January 2018.
“I really had a late start, let’s say like this,” said Kerber after the match. “Of course, it was good that it was raining a little bit. But I think for me the key was at the end that I came back on court and I was pushing myself, trying to be aggressive, not only pushing the balls. She played really well in the first few games, but then I started going out there starting from zero, not thinking about the score.”
In another match, Ostapenko seemed to be in cruise control as the Latvian dominated early proceedings to go up 6-4, 2-0. But Tomljanovic quickly turned the match upside down. Having gone up 2-0, one of her eight double faults allowed Tomljanovic to level at 2-2. It shifted the momentum in the 28-year-old player’s favour. Trailing in the decider, Ostapenko opted to take an off-court medical timeout.
“I had a problem with my abdominal already in the second set,” Ostapenko explained afterwards. “I pulled it, and I couldn’t really serve well because I had pain when I was serving, when I was doing one motion… It already was getting worse and worse, and I should have called physio earlier than that. I was just trying to forget that I have this pain and trying to focus more on the game.”
Later, Tomljanovic was able to win both of her last two return games to close out the match. “My feelings towards winning exceeds any drama that happened,” said Tomljanovic. “Because for me it’s a huge moment in my career, especially with everything that I have been through. I’m extremely happy to be in the fourth round for the first time, especially here in Wimbledon.”
After the match, Tomljanovic said she had been aware of past matches in which she had been unable to see out big leads. “It was very tough mentally, because the whole third set I felt I’m playing well, but it was still a battle for me just to keep it together mentally. I have lost many – not many, but I have lost a few big matches in my career where I maybe could have made the second week of a slam or third round against really good players when I was up.
“So already, that was an effort where I was like, OK, I’m doing well but it can still switch. That came into play when she goes off court, which completely threw me off, and when she came back, I was definitely flustered. But I thought to myself, look, I have lost many matches that I thought I wouldn’t and that still hurt to this day, so what’s one more going to do if it happens? So I kind of came to terms with that and just thought, OK, well, I’d rather be up 4-1 than in her position. So, yeah, I just thought one point at a time and got away with the win.”