LONDON, Great Britain -- Lauren Davis of the United States, a lucky loser into the Wimbledon main draw, notched a stunning upset on the Fourth of July, ousting defending champion and No.5 seed Angelique Kerber of Germany, 2-6, 6-2, 6-1.
"[It's] definitely been incredible," Davis said in her post-match press conference. "I was super disappointed having lost last round of qualies. I found out less than two hours later that I got into main. I was ecstatic about that. It's honestly a dream being here. I played qualies last year, so I wasn't able to come here. But, yeah, it feels amazing."
Davis, ranked World No.95, shocked former World No.1 Kerber in one hour and 54 minutes to claim the third Top 10 win of her career and reach the third round of Wimbledon for just the second time, alongside her run to the same round in 2014.
"Angie is definitely pretty tough to play," Davis stated. "She makes a ton of balls, like a human backboard. It was definitely, definitely a tough match, tough challenge. I knew going in that the key was to change the pace. I had a bit of difficulty finding a happy medium between being aggressive and working the point and making a lot of balls. Yeah, I definitely found that."
The American, formerly ranked in the Top 30, continues a rapid trajectory back up the rankings after having finished 2018 ranked No.252, her first year-end finish outside the Top 100 since 2011.
"That's tennis, that's life," said Davis. "There's definitely been tons of highs and lows. It's definitely made this and competing at this level all the more fulfilling. I definitely appreciate it a lot more than I used to."
Kerber had won their only previous meeting, a first-round match at the 2011 US Open, where the German had her breakthrough major by making it to her first Grand Slam semifinal. But on Thursday at Wimbledon, nearly eight years later, Kerber was broken by Davis seven times, and the three-time Grand Slam champion's 13 winners were negated by 31 unforced errors. Davis outhit Kerber on the day, with 45 winners.
"I always believe in myself," Davis stated. "[Kerber is] obviously an incredible champion. I have immense respect for her. I definitely believe in myself and believe that I can hang with these girls and beat them."
In the third round, Davis will play No.30 seed Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain, who defeated France’s Pauline Parmentier in two tiebreak sets earlier on Thursday. Former World No.6 Suarez Navarro won their first two meetings in 2013, but Davis claimed a win in their third and most recent match at Rome in 2017. This will be their first meeting on grass.
The match opened with lengthy rallies, as the two players with excellent footspeed extended points as far as they could go on the lawns of Court 2. This led to four straight breaks of service at the opening of the encounter.
Kerber struggled to finally hold serve, squandering a 40-0 lead at 2-2, but used her fierce left-handed forehand to garner a critical hold and start to take command of the opening frame. Kerber lobbed Davis in the first point of the next game, as the American slipped in the forecourt, en route to another break of service and a sturdy 4-2 lead.
The German swiftly moved to triple set point at 5-2, as Davis’s forehand missed its mark in back-to-back points. Another forehand miscue by Davis went into the net as Kerber claimed another break of service, at love, to clinch the one-set lead.
But after a visit from the trainer between sets, Davis turned the tables. Three breaks of serve started the second stanza, but Davis forced herself in front by holding for 3-1 with a beautiful backhand crosscourt winner. Kerber had three break points to get back level at 3-2, but Davis stayed aggressive and erased each of those chances, eventually gritting out a hold for 4-2.
Kerber faltered after being unable to get back to parity, and dropped serve in the very next game, which was punctuated by a double fault. Davis ended up winning the last seven points of the set, holding at love with an ace to get to one set apiece with the reigning titleholder.
Davis refused to let up in the decider, staying as the aggressor and reaping the rewards. Kerber held serve to open the final set, but that would be her only mark on the scoreboard, as Davis typically wrapped up grueling rallies with great groundstrokes to ease her way to a 4-1, double-break lead.
At 5-1, Kerber found herself in trouble on serve again, and had to use her forehand to fend off two match points and pull to game point. But consecutive errors by the German brought Davis a third match point, which was the charm as the American used a strong return to force a netted error and earn her first Top 10 win since 2017.