Although she made the final last week in Eastbourne and is a former semifinalist at the All-England Club, Kerber went into the tournament somewhat under the radar. A second round meeting with Watson, the last Briton standing in the singles draw, changed that as the No.9 seed got an early outing under the Centre Court spotlight.
The Turning Point
After a nervous start, Kerber settled into her usual metronomic rhythm from the baseline, drawing the errors from Watson to take a one-sided opening set.
However, any thoughts that Watson would just roll over were quickly dispelled. Despite twice falling a break behind, the Briton continued to go for her shots and was rewarded as she hit back to take a 56-minute second set.
Unfortunately for Watson, and the majority of the Centre Court crowd, these exploits took their toll. Sensing her opportunity, Kerber pounced, pinning a mentally winded Watson to the baseline and surging into a 3-0 lead. Watson continued to fight, pulling one of the breaks back, but she was unable to turn the tide, eventually going down, 6-2, 5-7, 6-1.
"I think it was a really tough match," Kerber said. "She played well. She hits the balls very fast, and deep. She's a very tough opponent, so you need to beat her. I actually expected a match like that. Heather is a great player. She's playing at home here. She had a great results in the last few weeks.
"I was trying to stay in the moment and try to be aggressive at the end. So I'm happy that I won the tough battle against her."
Meeting Kerber for a place in the last 16 will be Kirsten Flipkens. The only previous meeting between the two came eight years ago at an ITF Circuit event in Glasgow, where Kerber prevailed in straight sets.