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Too hot for Gauff to handle, 2018 champion Kerber is peaking again at Wimbledon

2018 Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber ended the run of 17-year-old Coco Gauff to set a quarter-final with Karolina Muchova.

Angelique Kerber at Wimbledon in 2018 Germany’s Angelique Kerber

Three weeks ago Angelique Kerber wouldn’t have made a long list of contenders for this year’s Wimbledown crown, despite her grass-court pedigree and impeccable Wimbledon record that features a final in 2016 and a title in 2018.

Silly us – the German is now a top-flight contender for the title after reeling off nine consecutive victories and taking her spot in the quarter-finals with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over 17-year-old Coco Gauff.

She will face Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic next.

Attacking the Gauff serve pays dividends

Gauff entered the match as the tournament leader in percentage of unreturned first and second serves, but the American was unable to keep points short against Kerber on Centre Court on Monday. From first ball Kerber had a read on Gauff’s serve, and she put returns in play deep enough to quickly take advantage in rallies.

Kerber put 82 percent of her returns in play and won 43 percent of her first-serve return points, which enabled her to earn five break points and convert four. She forced Gauff to play catchup throughout the match, and never wavered when it was time to finish off the opening set, and the match.

“I really enjoy my time here,” Kerber said on court after the match. “It’s so great to play in front of you guys again – that gives me the energy to play my best tennis.”

Kerber a resurgent force

The German reaches her first Grand Slam quarter-final since she won the title at Wimbledon in 2018, and improves to 35-11 lifetime at the Championships.

She entered the grass-court event at Bad Homburg two weeks ago with a record of 9-10 on the season and emerged with her first title in three years. Now, her winning streak touches nine and she looks like a serious threat to claim her fourth major title this Saturday.

“Her game really went down, and all of a sudden, for some reason – on grass – she found her form,” ESPN commentator Chris Evert said after the match. “She had an answer for everything Coco threw at her.”

Chris Evert on Angelique Kerber

Muchova returns to the last eight at Wimbledon

Karolina Muchova has never won a WTA main draw match away from Wimbledon, but when she steps on the grounds of the All England Club, something magical seems to happen. Muchova, who reached the quarter-finals on her debut in 2019, has replicated the feat thanks to her 7-6(6), 6-4 win over Spain’s Paula Badosa.

The No 19-seeded Czech improves to 8-1 lifetime at SW19 – Camila Giorgi is the only player that has been able to take a set from her this year at Wimbledon.

Kerber owns a 2-0 lifetime edge against Muchova, with both wins coming in 2019.

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