Aga Radwanska may be gone from Wimbledon, but the now-famous "Radwanska squat shot" lived on today in Germany's Angelique Kerber (we've seen it from Alize Cornet, too), who squatted, stretched, ran, and generally gutted her way to a 7-6, 4-6, 6-4 victory over Maria Sharapova, the 2004 champion--the one who got "lucky" when Serena Williams dropped out of her quarter of the draw.
Luck will take you only so far, and while Sharapova put up a mighty fight, saving six match points, she couldn't hit accurately enough to save seven. For her part, Kerber played perhaps the match of her career, making only eleven unforced errors in the entire 2-hour and 47-minute slugging exhibition. Kerber was everywhere, changing the direction of the ball on the turn of something even thinner than a dime, and never allowing Sharapova's almost super-human will to break her down.
The German star hit "only" 27 winners to Sharapova's 57, but Sharapova made 49 unforced errors, and that was her undoing.
From the beginning, Kerber showed a strong mentality. Leading 5-3 in the opening set, she was broken and had to go all the way to a tiebreak to claim the set. No problem. She dropped the second set. No problem. This isn't necessarily a familiar Kerber. The German tends to get down when things are tight, but today, she seemed to get only more confident. And if you're going to try out a new attitude, who better to test it against than Sharapova, the queen of "never give up."
"Slugfests" don't generally interest me too much, but there was something about this one that I found oddly compelling. The third set was compelling, no matter what one's personal tennis tastes are. Kerber raced to a 3-0 lead, but Sharapova pushed the score to 2-5, and saved a match point on her own serve with a ball that just clipped the line. She broke Kerber when the German served for the match at 5-3, then saved five more match points on her own serve. At this point, there seemed to be a freeze on the entity we know as time, while Sharapova found the will to survive again and again.
But Kerber never let up. She was fast, flexible, reliable, and also able to stop and start when she needed to. There was no sputtering or sign of breakdown.
It was also around this time that ESPN commentators Mary Joe Fernandez and Cliff Drysdale were editing their already-composed eulogy for Kerber. What a shame, they were saying--in various phrasing--that Kerber worked so hard and played so well, only to wind up losing to the mighty Maria. When it was over, and Sharapova had hit a ball out to give Kerber the match on her seventh match point, Fernandez and Drysdale didn't seem to even notice.
Hello, Mary Joe and Cliffie! Maria lost. Just in case you haven't figured it out yet.
But that wasn't the only match played today. Simona Halep, the only one of the top four seeds left standing, quickly dispatched Zarina Diyas 6-3, 6-0, and advanced to the quarterfinals of Wimbledon for the first time in her career. Halep practically doesn't exist to the commentators, and that may be just the way she likes it.
2013 runner-up Sabine Lisicki moved the quarterfinals with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 win over Yaroslava Shvedova. Lisicki had some shoulder problems, however, and had to be treated.
The schedule is, of course, off, because of rain delays. But playing successful catch-up was Lucie Safarova, who beat Ekaterina Makarova 6-3, 6-1 to advance to the semifinals! And Makarova's lackluster performance, which followed her brilliant performance in the round of 16, answers our always-frustrating question: Why isn't she ranked higher?
The bottom half of the quarterfinal draw could have been called the "Czech half," for having three Czech players in it, or it could just as well have been called the "lefty half," for having three left-handed players in it.
Top seeds Katarina Srebotnik and Mike Bryan lost their second round
mixed doubles match to Oksana Kalashnikova and Chris Guccione.
Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci, finishing a match that started yesterday, saved five match points and defeated Lyudmyla and Nadiia Kichenok in the second round of doubles. And Kristina Barrois and Stefanie Voegle advanced to the third round when their opponents, the Williams sisters, retired after playing just three games.
Serena's blood pressure was checked right before the match. The younger Williams sister had already acknowledged that she felt faint, she cried for a while, but she chose to play. Serena had difficulty bouncing and catching the ball for her serve, and then could not serve. Most of her attempts hit the net, a few went outside the court. There appeared to be some kind of left/right confusion going on, as well as general weakness, and it was scary to watch. According to Wimbledon officials, she has a viral illness.