Garbine Muguruza ended Angelique Kerber’s reign as world No1 with a three-set victory over the German top seed in the Wimbledon fourth round on Monday.
Kerber needed to at least reach the final this fortnight to have a chance of keeping her No1 ranking but a 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 loss to Muguruza in the last-16 means her 34-week stint at the top will come to an end on Monday, July 17.
Muguruza, last year’s French Open champion, has now won her last five consecutive matches against Kerber, who is yet to defeat a top-20 opponent this season.
The pair produced some incredible tennis on Court No. 2 on Monday, pushing each other to their limits and combining for a total of 82 winners – 55 of which came off of the Muguruza racquet.
“I think was a good match. I know I won it, but I think was a good match for both of us. You know, we battle out there. Every point we give our best,” said the Spanish No14 seed.
“Every match that I play against Kerber is like that. I remember two years ago when we played here, was a quite similar match. Happy that it went my way, of course, after fighting there for two hours.”
What happened on Court No. 2 on Monday was a beautiful thing. Two former Grand Slam champions and ex-runners-up at Wimbledon forgot all the struggles they battled through heading into the tournament and remembered the kind of tennis they both are capable of producing.
Muguruza and Kerber somehow managed to lift each other up, taking their level of play to incredible heights, as they painted the lines with their shot-making prowess.
The first break point of the match was for Kerber on the Muguruza serve at 3-3 which the German created with a signature passing shot. But Muguruza was unfazed, slamming big groundstrokes from the back of the court to set up a volley winner and hold soon after, despite receiving a time violation warning.
Kerber got the break though in game nine to put herself in the position to serve for the set at 5-4. Muguruza slammed down her 18th winner of the set to save a first set point but Kerber smashed her way to a one-set lead on her second opportunity.
Muguruza saved a break point en route to a 2-1 hold in the second set and leveled the match with a 41st winner to force a decider.
Kerber broke serve to open the third set but it only triggered a break-fest between the pair, as the match got tenser, and they each struggled to hold serve.
Muguruza finally stopped the trend and pulled off a massive hold in a 10+ minute game for 4-3 and got her first two match points on the Kerber serve at 5-4. The top seed saved the first with a service winner and hit a monster cross-court backhand to save the second.
A well-placed down-the-line backhand gave Muguruza a third match point and she got the win on a netted error from Kerber.
She may have lost a heart-breaker and with it her No1 ranking, but Kerber leaves Wimbledon with plenty of positives.
“It was for sure the best match for a long time for me,” said the German, who will drop to either No3 or No4 in the rankings depending on Johanna Konta and Svetlana Kuznetsova’s results.
Simona Halep would secure the No1 ranking if she wins her quarter-final on Tuesday against Konta. Halep was impressive in her 7-6 (3), 6-2 win over new mum Victoria Azarenka and is bidding to become the first Romanian woman to hold the No1 ranking.
If she loses on Tuesday, Karolina Pliskova will be crowned the new world No1 on Monday.
Even though she’s just one win away from the top spot, she has far bigger targets this fortnight.
“I want to win more, not just one match. So I’m not thinking about that,” said Halep.
The 37-year-old Venus Williams became the oldest Wimbledon quarter-finalist since Martina Navratilova in 1994 thanks to a 6-3, 6-2 win over Ana Konjuh, who was born seven months after Williams made her Wimbledon debut in 1997.
“I just keep stretching. I have no secrets. I stretch a little harder now. But only because I enjoy it,” Williams, who was runner-up at the Australian Open last January, said of how she keeps going at 37.
Kuznetsova reached her first Wimbledon quarter-final in 10 years with a confident 6-2, 6-4 win over 2012 runner-up Agnieszka Radwanska. She next faces Muguruza for a place in the semis.
“When you look at the statistics, it’s amazing. But I felt like I have been there, so it’s just another quarter-final, it’s gonna be another competitive match, so I’m just looking forward to it,” said Kuznetsova, a two-time Grand Slam champion.
Johanna Konta became the first British woman to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals since Jo Durie in 1984 with a hard-earned 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-4 win over French No21 seed Caroline Garcia.
“It’s very exciting. It’s another step forward to being involved in the event for the full two weeks. But it is a massive compliment to me. It’s a great achievement,” she said of hitting a new milestone.
Roger Federer reached his 50th Grand Slam quarter-final and 15th at Wimbledon – going one clear of Jimmy Connors at the top of the Open Era list of most quarter-finals reached at the All England Club – with a 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 win over 13th-seeded Grigor Dimitrov.
Federer next faces Canadian No6 seed Milos Raonic, who defeated Federer in last year’s semi-finals.
* Video courtesy of wimbledon.com
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