Just a year after maternity leave, Tatjana Maria of Germany extended her resurgent season with a milestone at a Grand Slam event.
The 34-year-old mother-of-two reached the round of 16 at a major tournament for the first time in her career, edging out number 5 seed Maria Sakkari of Greece 6-3, 7 -5 at Wimbledon.
“The first time in the round of 16 is already amazing,” Maria said in her post-match press conference. “Winning against Sakkari today is pretty awesome. I think I had a good match from start to finish.”
Mother-of-two Maria brings the family business to Wimbledon
The upset on Court No. 2 on Friday marks the fifth Top 10 win of Maria’s career. Maria hadn’t won a match in a Grand Slam main draw since 2018, but has already picked up three wins this week.
Maria had reached the third round of a Slam only once before, at Wimbledon in 2015. But her slice-filled game propelled her to another big run in her 10th SW19 appearance, and she went even further. this time with his 90 minute upset against Sakkari.
Come back for more: Former Top 50 Player Maria returned to tour in July 2021 after giving birth to her second daughter Cecilia in April last year (her eldest daughter Charlotte was born in 2013). She has since risen to No. 103 in the world, bolstered by winning her second career title in Bogota in qualifying in April.
Sakkari had already beaten Maria in the first round of this year’s Australian Open, but Maria got revenge for that loss, hitting 19 winners and just 12 unforced errors on Friday. Sakkari’s 28 winners were overwhelmed by 29 unforced errors.
“The match against Sakkari at the Australian Open gave me confidence because I saw that I was very close,” Maria said. “I knew I had my chances. If I play smart and well, I can win this game.”
Returning Queen: Maria had already picked up a big second-round win on Wednesday, when she fought back after a double fall in the third set to beat No. 26 seed Sorana Cirstea for her first Top 50 victory in more than two year.
Once again, Maria had to defend herself from a terrible deficit in a set. Sakkari led 5-2 in the second set, and the Greek held two set points at 5-4 to tie the game. But Maria threw a group of solid serves to hold it 5-5, and the German took the next two games to complete the upset.
Maria will face a third seed in a row when she takes on 12th seed Jelena Ostapenko in the Round of 16. This will be Maria’s first encounter against 2017 French Open champion Ostapenko, who was also a Wimbledon semi-finalist in 2018.
Mertens knocks out Kerber
It was not a perfect day for Germany, however, as Belgium’s Elise Mertens, seeded No. 24, beat 2018 Wimbledon champion and seeded No. 15 Angelique Kerber, 6-4, 7 -5 on court n°1. Mertens earned his first Top 20 win in over a year with the win.
Mertens had beaten German No. 1 Kerber in their only previous clash at the WTA 1000 Doha in 2019, en route to her biggest career title. The Belgian again knocked out the former world No. 1 Kerber, this time in 1h20 on the lawns of London.
Mertens was coming off a slender victory in the previous round, saving two match points against Panna Udvardy in a match that took place on Wednesday night and Thursday.
But Mertens seemed unaffected by the lingering effects of that marathon, converting five of his seven break points and hitting 18 winners in 14 unforced errors. Kerber’s 16 winners were outnumbered by 28 unforced errors.
“It was a very difficult game [in the] second round, losing the first set, then losing two match points,” Mertens said afterwards. “I played a third set yesterday, so I feel like I’m on the court nonstop.
“It’s also a good sign because I haven’t had these games in the last two weeks. I was like, ‘OK, let’s get some energy, some rallies, some games. I think it really helped me for today too, knowing that even when you’re down, you can come back, being mentally strong.”
Mertens, who came back from a breakdown in the second set against Kerber, will face No. 3 seed Ons Jabeur of Tunisia in the Belgian’s second trip to the Wimbledon round of 16. Mertens beat Jabeur in their only previous encounter, last year. US Open.