Kerber sends Sharapova spinning out of Wimbledon
Angelique Kerber secured an epic two-and-a-half hour victory over fifth seed Maria Sharapova in one of the matches of the tournament at this year's Wimbledon championships.
It means Sharapova's wait to add a second Wimbledon title to the one she won 10 years ago aged 17 continues, while Kerber - the No.9 seed at this year's tournament - advances beyond the fourth round of a Grand Slam event for the first time since reaching the Wimbledon semi-finals two years ago.
Kerber had to work for it, too, needing seven match points in total before breaking down the Sharapova resistance. She will now face Eugenie Bouchard, who defeated her in the French Open in Paris in May.
Lisicki takes the strain to reach last eight
- Last year's runner-up Sabine Lisicki reached the last eight at Wimbledon in controversial circumstances as she defeated Yaroslava Shvedova in three sets.
- Facing a break point at 1-1 in the third set, Lisicki called for a trainer to attend to her shoulder and neck, which contributed to her serving 20 double faults in the match.
- Having received treatment, she then saved break point and immediately broke Shvedova, although a rollercoaster final set saw more breaks before Lisicki closed out a 6-3 3-6 6-4 victory.
- Lisicki will now face French Open finalist Simona Halep in the quarter-finals. Halep took just 57 minutes to dismantle Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan in straight sets, 6-3 6-0.
"I had it before the match in my mind that in the past few Grand Slams I lost in the fourth round, but in this match I was just trying to focus point-by-point and it was a great match," Kerber told the BBC. "I think people enjoyed it out there - it was great to play on Centre Court, just an amazing atmosphere out there.
"When I had those three match points in a row [she led 0-40 in the final game] and then it was deuce, I just had to focus myself and tell myself 'believe in yourself'. I just had to be aggressive and in the end it worked."
On her rematch with Bouchard, she said: "I lost against her in Paris. I will have to play again like today - be aggressive, play my game and enjoy the match, enjoy every single moment here."
Sharapova had dropped just seven games in total in the tournament prior to this match, but immediately found herself up against it by being broken in the opening game. Similarly to her match against Alison Riske in the third round, Sharapova took a handful of games to really get into the groove before breaking Kerber back as she served for the first set leading 5-4.
That set went to a tiebreak and Kerber forced two set points. She needed just one as a Sharapova forehand went long, allowing Kerber the honour of being the first player this year to take a set off Sharapova at Wimbledon.
Sharapova continued to battle back, however, and took the second set 6-4. It seemed at that stage as though the No.5 seed had asserted her authority and could contain her lower-ranked opponent, but Kerber was having none of it.
The German broke Sharapova in her first service game of the deciding set, the decisive point a perfect encapsulation of the match itself as Kerber refused to back down before outmanoeuvering her opponent before smacking a forehand into the empty court, which was met with a huge roar towards her team in the players' box.
Sharapova had to come up with a superb shot to stave off break point while serving to save the match, and a cruel net cord stopped Kerber from putting more pressure on the Sharapova serve. It meant Kerber would serve for the match at 5-3 in the third, but a double fault left her trailing 15-30. She would eventually save one break point but could not save a second, despite recovering from being on her backside during the decisive rally.
The frantic and desperate nature of each player's games by this stage was producing an epic spectacle. That continued as Sharapova served at 5-4 to stay in the match. Kerber raced into a 40-0 lead only for Sharapova to save each of those three match points. Another two match points followed in a see-saw battle, with Sharapova finally going long to give Kerber victory.