Angelique Kerber’s Wimbledon magic is back, as the 2018 champion defeated Karolina Muchova 6-2, 6-3 to reach the semifinals in London for the fourth time in her career.
Kerber, seeded No.25, needed just an hour and 15 minutes to quash the challenge from No.19 seed Muchova, notching her 10th straight match-win in the process. Kerber came into Wimbledon having taken the title at the inaugural Bad Homburg event in her home country of Germany.
"I just try to continue my play on grass," Kerber said in her post-match press conference. "Having, of course, the confidence from the last week, coming here with a title in my bag, gives me also confidence that grass is really my surface."
Another trip to the final four continues a run of exceptional success at Wimbledon for Kerber, who defeated Serena Williams in the 2018 final and finished runner-up to Williams in 2016. Kerber also reached the Wimbledon semifinals in 2012.
"Of course, it's a good feeling already to have the [Wimbledon] trophy at home and to win it here," Kerber said. "I think it's more about this tournament for me, because when I was a kid I really looked forward to playing this tournament good, and playing my best tennis here.
"Now I'm back. I'm coming [back] after a really tough time. I was not playing good the last few months. Now winning last week a tournament at home, now playing well here again, that means a lot to me."
The former World No.1 Kerber improved to 3-0 against Muchova, and she is also an undefeated 7-0 against Czech players at Grand Slam tournaments.
Kerber fired 15 winners, outpacing the nine from Muchova, and converted four of her six break points as she eased into her first major semifinal since her title-winning run at Wimbledon three years ago.
Muchova, a semifinalist at this year's Australian Open, is only the third woman in Wimbledon history to reach the quarterfinals on her first two appearances at the event (2019 and this year). But on the day, the Czech was undone by 27 unforced errors, six more than Kerber's total.
Vintage Kerber crouching passes were pitted against the frequent forays forward by Muchova in the first set, and it was Kerber who came out on top more often as the match commenced.
Former champion Kerber ended one of her classic all-court rallies with a winning overhead to break for 2-0, then gritted her way through tough service games there and at 4-2 (saving two break points) to lead 5-2. A love break in the next game gave Kerber the one-set lead.
Muchova took the first lead in the second set with solid returning to break for 2-1, but Kerber again blasted her way through a lengthy game to break straight back. Kerber then fired a backhand winner on break point to take a commanding 4-2 lead.
Muchova showed off excellent net skills through the rest of the affair, holding for 5-3 with a deft stab volley. The Czech nearly made things much more complicated, grasping a break point as Kerber served for the match, but Kerber was undaunted and converted her second match point to complete a long-awaited return to a major semifinal.
In the semifinals, Kerber will face top seed Ashleigh Barty. Their head-to-head is tied at 2-2, with all of their previous meetings coming on hardcourt.
"Against Ash, I know that I have to play my best tennis," Kerber said. "She has a lot of confidence right now. She played well. I know that I have to play my own game. I have to just think how to play, be aggressive, and try to take the match more in my hands and go for it. Even if I miss a few shots, I have to stay there and try to push her."
Barty triumphs over Tomljanovic in all-Australian derby
No.1 seed Ashleigh Barty needed just 66 minutes to get past Ajla Tomljanovic 6-1, 6-3. The 2019 Roland Garros champion moves into her third Grand Slam semifinal, and first at SW19.
"This is my dream," Barty said, in her post-match press conference. "I'm in an extremely fortunate position that I'm getting to do what I love, getting to do what I dreamt as a kid. So I think I've just got a whole lot of gratitude for the fact that I get to come out here and do what I love."
It was the first all-Australian Grand Slam quarterfinal since Evonne Goolagong Cawley defeated Wendy Turnbull at Wimbledon 1980, and Barty becomes the first Australian semifinalist at Wimbledon since Jelena Dokic in 2000. The result also extended Barty's winning streak against her compatriots to six. She has not been defeated by a fellow Australian since falling to Daria Gavrilova in the 2017 Strasbourg quarterfinals.
The streak never looked like ending against Tomljanovic. From 0-1 down, Barty swept through six games on the trot for the loss of just seven points to take the first set. This was despite landing only 25% of her first serves - though beyond that, the World No.1's form off the ground was sumptuous.
"Obviously it was something that I wanted to do is to start well," Barty said. "But also not making a massive, massive emphasis on the start, allowing myself to not panic if things didn't start overly well.
"It was just working my way in, like we always do, not putting any more emphasis on any point or any situation. It just kind of is what it is. Each and every one, I just wanted to try and play as I could with as much clarity and freedom as I could."
Barty fixed her first serve percentage in the second set, raising it to 73%. Unfortunately, much of the rest of her game dipped. Twice, she coughed up a pair of double faults in one service game; and her marvellous forehand winners were beginning to alternate with cheap errors off both wings.
But Tomljanovic was unable to take advantage until it was too late. Trailing 6-1, 4-1, the World No.75 had found only one winner - a volley in the first game of the match - to 17 unforced errors.
A stellar backhand down the line got her winner count, and the scoreboard, moving again. Tomljanovic even managed to briefly get back on serve after finding a pair of aces en route to holding, then lapping up a flurry of errant forehands from Barty.
The loss of her lead jolted Barty back into focus. The top seed emphatically quelled any thoughts Tomljanovic might have had of a full comeback by breaking again courtesy of three exquisite passing shots, then sealing victory with her fourth ace of the day.
"Today I was able to use my weapons a little bit better and just bring the ball back into my patterns a bit more regularly," Barty said. "I certainly wasn't as loose as I have been with errors and kind of ill-timed lapses, I suppose. But I felt really sharp today. I felt like I knew I needed to bring that level in order to match it with Ajla."
Facing Kerber next, Barty said that "Angie obviously has an incredible record here. She's made multiple finals. She's one of the best grass courters going around. I think the challenge of playing her in a semifinal of Wimbledon is an incredible opportunity, one that I'm really excited for."
"It's exciting to have the challenge of playing someone who is comfortable on these courts, who knows how to win this tournament," Barty added.