Two unlikely heroines and a disappointed favorite: Angelique Kerber, of all people, is eliminated from Wimbledon on Friday. Jule Niemeier and Tatjana Maria, on the other hand, are in the round of 16 for the first time.
Angelique Kerber fought doggedly. And for a few minutes it actually looked as if she could follow the two unlikely heroines of this Wimbledon tournament to the round of 16. But Kerber gave up their lead in the second set – and so the German hopes in the All England Club are suddenly on Jule Niemeier and Tatjana Maria.
Neither was to be expected, unlike the former Wimbledon champion Kerber (34), but she stumbled at the first higher hurdle. The 4: 6, 5: 7 in the third round against the Belgian Elise Mertens lasted only 80 minutes, Kerber left the court deeply disappointed.
“I gave everything,” she said, “two or three balls decided the match. Of course I’m disappointed, I had my chances.”
Kerber is happy for the German duo
But she is now happy for Niemeier (22) and Maria (34), “they have found their rhythm and their game on grass.”
Both had done great things before. Wimbledon debutant Niemeier made the fans and her team tremble for a long time in the 6: 4, 3: 6, 6: 3 against the tough Ukrainian Lesia Zurenko, Maria surprised the entire tennis world. Only 15 months after the birth of her second daughter, she made it into the round of 16 of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time – and was overwhelmed after the 6: 3, 7: 5 against the world number five Maria Sakkari from Greece.
“There are no words for it, just the sheer joy of being able to experience this with my family,” Maria said. In the exuberance of feelings, she sent a declaration of love to her husband and two children from the seat. “Without him none of this would be possible, he always believes in me, he supports me in everything,” said Maria.
Niemeier was less euphoric, after the hard-fought 6: 4, 3: 6, 6: 3 against the tough Ukrainian Lesia Zurenko, she was “just relieved” and “happy that I won, even if I didn’t show my best tennis The match was decided in my head today.”
Wimbledon: This is how Maria and Niemeier continue
On the edge of Court 18, Niemeier’s trainer Christopher Kas breathed a sigh of relief after the “emotional roller coaster ride” – and found words of admiration. “First time at Wimbledon, first time in the third round, after beating the number 2: with all those factors, I’m also a bit proud of her,” said Kas.
In the round of 16 she meets the British Heather Watson, eight years older than Niemeier, but also without experience at this level in a Grand Slam. As number 121 in the world, she is even 24 places behind Niemeier. And yet it will be a match for a big court – possibly even Center Court.
Maria (34) is dealing with the former French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko from Latvia. While she used all her experience against Sakkari to conjure up a brilliant performance on the sacred turf, Niemeier gave room for improvement.
The Dortmund player served eleven double faults against Zurenko and conceded ten breaks after not even giving up her serve in her first two matches. But Kas drew attention to Niemeier’s reaction, “how tough she stayed in her head. She didn’t feel great all the time,” he said, but “the important thing is to still be ready”.