Angelique Kerber was the only player in the last 16 of Wimbledon 2021 to have won the title before, and the No.25 seed used all of her experience to outplay 17-year-old No.20 seed Coco Gauff 6-4, 6-4 on Centre Court.
Kerber, a finalist at The Championships in 2016 and the champion in 2018, returns to a Grand Slam quarterfinal for the first time since that 2018 title run, and 11th time overall. She is now on a nine-match winning streak, having lifted the trophy on home soil in the inaugural Bad Homburg Open last week.
"I really enjoy to play on grass," Kerber said in her post-match press conference. "I think this is always really special for me. Playing two tournaments in Germany, starting the grass-court season like this, then winning [the Bad Homburg title], playing in front of the crowd again, this gives me again new energy to go out there and enjoy my tennis.
"I really worked hard in the last few months. Being able now to play matches like this, win close matches, going out there and enjoying it, feeling my tennis, it's always a good sign. Being now in the quarters here again, it's really great. I'm looking forward to the next round."
The first meeting between the oldest and youngest players in the fourth round was highly anticipated, and was tightly contested throughout: Kerber finished with 22 winners to Gauff's 25, but 20 unforced errors to the American's 27.
"I think it was a good match," Kerber said. "It's never easy to play against someone who you never played, especially against someone like Coco. She is really a young player who I think has a really nice and great future and career in front of her.
"I was trying to be focused, trying to play my game. Going forward if I had the chances, especially in the second set, middle of the second set, then closing the match with my serve."
A nervy start saw the clash begin with five straight breaks of serve as both players sought to find their rhythm. A pinpoint lob from Kerber was one of the first signs of this happening, and paved the way to a 3-2 lead for the German.
That proved crucial: There would only be one further service break in the match as both players began to execute a fascinating tactical battle. Gauff went for all-out aggression, which paid dividends on her backhand side and on 10 of the 19 occasions she got to net. Three aces in one service game for her first hold also drew gasps of admiration.
But it was Kerber's perfectly balanced blend of counterpunching and first-strike tennis that enabled the 33-year-old to keep a lid on the match. She raised her first serve percentage from 64% in the first set to 75% in the second, and invariably landed a fine delivery whenever Gauff had a half-chance to threaten a break.
Wrong-footing winners successfully got through the teenager's formidable defence, and Kerber also pulled off a couple of magnificently angled passes. She also directed as much traffic as possible to the Gauff forehand, which leaked 17 unforced errors alone.
Though Gauff fell behind an early break in the second set with a double fault, she threatened to make a signature comeback throughout. Buoyed by enthusiastic crowd support, the Roland Garros quarterfinalist gritted out several tight holds to avoid falling behind a double break.
But each time, Kerber responded with a businesslike hold to keep her nose in front. When it came to serving for the match, there would be no mistake: the former World No.1 delivered a love hold, sealed with her second ace.
Jabeur comes back to defeat Swiatek, reach second Grand Slam quarterfinal
Earlier, Ons Jabeur continued to blaze a history-making trail with a resounding 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 defeat of No.7 seed Iga Swiatek in the fourth round of Wimbledon.
The Tunisian No.21 seed became the first player from her country and the first Arab woman to reach the quarterfinals at SW19 after sealing her third straight win over a Grand Slam champion. She is also the first Arab player, man or woman, to reach the Wimbledon last eight since Egypt's Ismail El Shafei, the former ATP World No.34, in 1974. It is her second Grand Slam quarterfinal following the 2020 Australian Open.
Afterwards, she joined in with the celebrations of several fans waving the Tunisian flag.
"Tunisians are everywhere, I got to say," she laughed afterwards. "They were singing actually a football song. I felt the need to sing with them also. I felt so happy that I wanted to hear more. I was doing this to hear them. It's amazing to hear, even playing against an amazing player, Iga, but most of the crowd were helping me and supporting me. I was hearing more my name. It gives me a lot of confidence. Honestly, I appreciate it a lot. I hope they come even more for the next match."
Jabeur, the Birmingham champion whose grass record this year now stands at 10-1, forged her win with both creativity and resilience. Her renowned dropshot took a set to properly click, but once it did it repeatedly outfoxed Swiatek.
A magnificent forehand winner on the run to seal a 3-0 double-break lead in the second set drew gasps from the Court No.2 crowd. Jabeur would also close out that set in supreme fashion, essaying two successful dropshot returns - and in between, a forehand return struck with such pace that Swiatek could barely react before it was beyond her.
In total, Jabeur found 30 winners to 23 unforced errors. But her win was just as much down to her ability to rise to the challenge of scoreboard pressure, and her focus on the basics on big points. The 26-year-old converted all seven of her break points she brought up, three times with clean winners.
Jabeur also recovered well from the loss of an opening set she had led most of the way. After a patchy start from both, it was Jabeur who kept pulling away - until, serving for the set, she came out on the wrong end of a three-deuce tussle that culminated in a double fault. Swiatek, buoyed by this, would play her best tennis of the day to storm through the next two games.
But throughout the first set, Jabeur's 47% first serve percentage had been the reason she had needed to scrap so hard. She raised that to 70% in the second set and 71% in the third, allowing her more free points as well as a more comfortable base from which to execute her creativity.
In each of the last two sets, she would face break points in one crucial service game - and won both to lead 4-0 in the second and 4-1 in the third.
"It was very close from the beginning," said Jabeur afterwards. "I knew I had the rhythm. She played really well. She deserved to honestly break me and take the serve. That's why I stayed calm. I didn't think the anger would be the answer right that second. I tried to stay calm at the second set and focus more on my serve. I knew I had to be aggressive."
For Swiatek, her grass education continues after a loss that was distinctly reminiscent of her 4-6, 6-0, 6-1 defeat at the hands of Daria Kasatkina in the second round of Eastbourne last week. After failing to break Jabeur back in those two key games in the second and third sets, the Pole ran out of ideas somewhat, hitting out wildly at the end of both acts. Twenty-seven unforced errors to 20 winners will also be disappointing.
However, a second-week showing in her second Wimbledon appearance is a fine result to build on, and for passages in this match the 2020 Roland Garros champion showed that both her movement and shot selection on grass have improved substantially over the course of the past two weeks alone.
"We were battling for dominance because we both knew the girl who is going to attack, going to move forward, is going to win," Swiatek said. "So basically that's why probably when I lost that dominance, the second set was so quick."