Salem Radio Network News Saturday, October 1, 2022

Sports

Tennis-Mertens beats former Wimbledon champion Kerber to reach last 16

By Sudipto Ganguly

LONDON (Reuters) -Elise Mertens stayed solid against an error-prone Angelique Kerber of Germany to defeat the former Wimbledon champion 6-4 7-5 on Friday and reach the fourth round.

Mertens will next meet third seed Ons Jabeur of Tunisia for a place in the quarter-finals.

The Belgian achieved her best showing at the grasscourt Grand Slam in 2019 when she got to the last 16 and came into Friday’s contest having defeated the three-times major winner in their only previous meeting three years ago.

The 26-year-old Belgian, who reached a career-high ranking of 12th in 2018, had to save two match points against Panna Udvardy in a second-round clash that lasted three hours 15 minutes and stretched over two days.

“It was a very good match on my side,” Mertens told reporters after beating 15th seed Kerber. “I had two difficult ones just before, saving two match points. So I’m very happy that I could close this one in two sets.

“I think my level was way better today than the last couple of days.”

Mertens broke the left-handed Kerber in the fourth game and served for the opening set at 5-3, only for the German to break back.

But the 24th-seed did not lose her composure and broke the 2018 Wimbledon champion to love.

Appearing in her 51st consecutive major, the 34-year-old Kerber seemed to have got the momentum back when she cracked Mertens’ serve and took a 5-3 lead in the second set.

But with the former world number one serving to level the match, Mertens broke back and sealed the contest when Kerber committed her 28th unforced error with a return into the net.

Mertens, who won the Wimbledon doubles title in 2021, has now reached at least the third round of the last 18 majors she has competed in.

“I’m aware of the streak, yeah, yeah,” said Mertens, whose best result at a Grand Slam came in 2018 when she reached the Australian Open semi-finals. “It’s a very good one.

“Of course, I want to do even better. But, yeah, it’s a bit unusual… third round for 18 times. I mean, that also gives you a little bit of confidence I guess coming into a Grand Slam.

“But as for now I think grass is a very particular surface and I try to adjust as good as I can. This week it’s going good so far.”

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Ed Osmond and Ken Ferris)

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