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Former champ Kerber sent packing as fellow German continues giant-killing Wimbledon run

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Germany’s Tatjana Maria, the oldest player left in the Wimbledon women’s draw at 34 years old, caused one of the upsets of the tournament on Saturday by knocking out fifth seed Maria Sakkari 6-3, 7-5 to reach the fourth round of a grand slam for the first time in her career.

Maria will next face 12th-seeded Latvian Jelena Ostapenko, the 2017 French Open champion, for a quarter-final spot.

“It feels amazing. I’m the first time in the last 16, so that’s already amazing. To win against Sakkari today, yeah, it’s pretty awesome,” she told reporters.

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“I think I played a good match from the beginning to the end. Yeah, it makes me happy.”

Ranked 103rd, the mother of two returned from maternity leave just under a year ago.

In the previous round, Maria rallied from 3-0 down in the deciding set to defeat Sorana Cirstea to claim her first win over a top-50 player in more than two years.

She had to fight back from 5-2 down in the second set against Sakkari on Saturday to exact revenge for her hard-fought defeat in the opening round of this year’s Australian Open.

“It also gave me confidence. And I knew that I have my chances. If I play clever and good, I can win this match.”

Sakkari, who reached the French and US Open semi-finals last year, made 30 unforced errors and could only convert one of her seven break point opportunities. 

But Maria’s win wasn’t the only upset of the day, with former Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber defeated by Belgium’s Ellise Mertens 6-4, 7-5.

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Mertens achieved her best showing at the grasscourt grand slam in 2019 when she got to the last 16, and came into Saturday’s contest having defeated Kerber in their only previous meeting three years ago.

The 26-year-old, who reached a career-high ranking of 12th in 2018, had to save two match points against Panna Udvardy in a lengthy second-round clash that 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, who won the Wimbledon doubles title in 2021, has now reached the third round of the last 18 majors she has competed in and will face Tunisian third seed Ons Jabeur for a place in the quarter-finals.

Reuters/ABC

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