Tatjana Maria’s trailblazing run at Wimbledon continued in exciting fashion as the No.103-ranked mother-of-two saved two match points en route to ousting No.12 seed Jelena Ostapenko 5-7, 7 -5, 7-5 to reach the first Grand Slam quarter-final.
Maria led 4-1 in the second set and 2-0 in the third before pulling off a 2 hour and 8 minute comeback. The 34-year-old had never reached week two of a major before this week, but achieved her career-best result at this level less than a year after returning from her second maternity leave.
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Maria also becomes the oldest woman to make her Wimbledon quarter-final debut in the open era, and only the seventh to reach that stage after turning 34.
The German had already secured her best ranking at No. 46, as well as her first Hologic WTA Tour title in Mallorca 2018, as a mother of one. Her first daughter, Charlotte, was born in December 2013 and her second, Cecilia, in April 2021. Maria returned to professional tennis at the end of July last year and in April this year won her second WTA trophy in Bogota. .
Twists: An extreme stylistic contrast between Ostapenko’s all-out aggression and Maria’s network of slices and absurd defense resulted in a classic contest. Plot twists featured prominently as the momentum swung: Maria led 3-1 in the first set, only for Ostapenko to take control and win 10 of the next 13 games to lead 4-1 in the second. .
Maria equalized at 4-4, but Ostapenko’s superb net play saw the Latvian snap the streak against her to hold 5-4. She advanced to double match point thanks to a fearsome return, only for Maria to avoid the two with a one-two punch and a service winner. As Ostapenko’s backhand crumbled, Maria broke again then fired pocket aces to force a decider.
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After erasing an early break deficit, Maria’s resilience paid off in the climax of the game. At 4-4, Ostapenko wasted three game points with unforced errors, then sent a smash over the baseline break point. But the former world No. 5 fired back in the blink of an eye, returning a winning streak to claim the next six points.
However, Ostapenko couldn’t see the hold at 5-5. A clever short return from Maria resulted in another break point error, and the unrated player made no mistake as he served for the win a second time. A service winner sealed his second match point and a date with fellow German Jule Niemeier in the last eight.
By the numbers: As one would expect, Ostapenko topped both the winners and unforced errors columns, totaling 52 and 57 respectively. Maria found 23 winners for 15 unforced errors – but of those latter, 11 came in the first set. In the second set, Maria managed to reduce her total errors to a remarkable zero, and in the third only committed four.
Maria’s serve was also crucial as she complemented her soft touch in rallies with tremendous power to start the point. She fired nine aces – including three in a row at one point – and conceded just three points behind her first serve in each of the second and third sets.
Maria on what lies behind her unique accomplishments: “There’s always the belief that I can do it. I mean, that’s why I came back after the first. That’s why I came back after the second. Otherwise, if I don’t believe I can do those things, then I wouldn’t be there, so there’s still that belief and I keep going, improving and doing my best in the end.
“It’s also very hard work. It doesn’t come out of nowhere, let’s say. We’re out on the pitch every day. We’re working. Yeah, like I said, we’re trying to improve. But maybe “Maybe in me there’s this feeling now, OK, I can do it, I can go for it. Sometimes little things can change a whole game. It’s really small parts.”