LONDON, Great Britain - Former World No.1 Angelique Kerber returned to the Wimbledon semifinals for the second time in three years on Tuesday, converting a seventh match point to knock out No.14 seed Daria Kasatkina, 6-3, 7-5.
"I think the whole match was really good," Kerber said after the match. "I think we both played on a really high level, starting from the first point. I think the last game shows how good we played both and how she was fighting until the end.
"I think these are the matches why we are here and why we are trying to playing our best. I'm happy that I won it at the end in two sets."
Kerber finished runner-up to Serena Williams at the All England Club back in 2016, and is showing that level of form once more on Centre Court, outlasting the talented young Russian after one hour and 28 minutes on court.
Kerber and Kasatkina have developed one of the tour's most intriguing rivalries in the last two years, splitting six previous meetings and playing most recently at the Nature Valley International in Eastbourne, where the German triumphed in a third-set tie-break.
"I think she is a tricky opponent. That's why she is so good. She played so many good matches in the last few months. I was expecting a match like this. I think for me it was important to play aggressively, trying to taking the challenge how she was playing, as well, trying to moving good, bringing a lot of balls back, trying also to accept how good she is playing."
Playing just her second career Grand Slam quarterfinal - after reaching the first three weeks ago at Roland Garros - Kasatkina showed marked improvement beneath the big stage spotlight, earning a break point in the first game of the match. Kerber saved it and relied on her experience throughout the contest, shaking off the Russian's rally from 4-1 to 4-3 and calmly claiming the opening set two games later.
"She was playing really amazing, even better than two weeks ago in the Eastbourne," Kasatkina said. "I think it was a really, really good match. We pushed our best. At the end she was better. But I enjoyed every second on the court."
The second set proved far more titanic as the 21-year-old continued to keep Kerber on her toes, breaking back the first three times the No.11 seed took a lead - including 5-4 as the German served for the match.
But again, Kerber came through when it mattered most after a titanic final game - in which Kerber saved six match points - to reach her second major semifinal of the season, having already gotten to within one point of the Australian Open final against Simona Halep back in January.
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In all, both women kept their stats fairly even as Kerber struck 16 winners to 14 errors while Kasatkina turned heads with 33 winners but was undone by 31 unforced errors and seven double faults.
Up next for Kerber is 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, who reached her first Wimbledon semifinal after beating former World No.4 Dominika Cibulkova on No.1 Court. The two-time Grand Slam champion will take on the 21-year-old Latvian for the first time on Thursday.
"I think it's a big challenge, especially about Ostapenko where I never played against her," Kerber said. "I mean, she won also a Grand Slam. I think it will be really a good match. I think the match starts from zero. I mean, the pressure is not always on my side, since she won a Grand Slam, as well. I think that we are both looking forward to playing the semis."