MALLORCA, Spain - 2018 Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber won a ninth straight match on grass, defeating fellow former World No.1 Maria Sharapova, 6-2, 6-3, to reach the Mallorca Open quarterfinals.
"It's always tough to play Maria, especially in the second round," Kerber explained during her on-court interview. "I think everybody was enjoying the match, and we gave our best today. It's great to be back here in Mallorca. I love this place and I'm looking forward to playing my next match."
Sharapova was playing just her second match since withdrawing from the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy in January, and Kerber's consistency proved too much as the German advanced after 92 minutes on Pista Central.
The two were playing the ninth match of their rivalry, with Sharapova having won their first four meetings and Kerber winning the four most recent, including their only grass court clash at the 2014 Wimbledon Championships.
"If you have a lot of wins before Wimbledon, this is the goal. I'm here to play good matches against the best players in the world, so of course, it gives me a little more confidence for my next matches and next days before I go to London.
"I still think I need a few more matches but I'm in a good way, and the most important thing is to have a lot of good matches and to enjoy my stay here."
Kerber was made to fight in her first match against Ysaline Bonaventure, rallying from a break down in the deciding set to defeat the Belgian qualifier. Nevertheless, it was the three-time Grand Slam winner who broke to start the match, and fended off three break points to maintain her lead.
Sharapova kept the games close but soon fell behind a second break and Kerber served out the opening set to 15.
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The top seed took a similar lead in the second, earning another 5-2 lead after a marathon game on the Sharapova serve. The 2004 Wimbledon winner made one last stand as Kerber served for the match, nabbing her first break of the match, but Kerber held firm, breaking straight back to secure the win.
In all, it was a clean match from Kerber, who struck 18 winners to just five unforced errors throughout, converting five of 12 break point opportunities. For Sharapova, she showed encouraging signs with 22 winners but was undone by 31 unforced errors, and will ultimately rue her one-for-six break point conversion rate.
Standing between the German and a spot in the semifinals is either No.6 seed Caroline Garcia or Spanish wildcard Paula Badosa, who scored a stunning win over Libema Open champion Alison Riske in the first round.