Wimbledon: 2018 champion Kerber, first-timers enter semifinals

When Angelique Kerber grabbed the opening set of her Wimbledon quarterfinal, the full-capacity crowd saluted the accomplishment with cheers that bounced off the closed roof at No. 1 Court.

The owner of three Grand Slam titles, including at Wimbledon in 2018, Kerber moved back into the final four at the grass-court major by using her knee-to-the-turf agility and quick reflexes to beat No. 19 seed Karolina Muchova 6-2, 6-3 on Tuesday.

Kerber, a 33-year-old left-hander from Germany, will next go up against No. 1 Ashleigh Barty or 75th-ranked Ajla Tomljanovic, who met later Tuesday in the first all-Australian major quarterfinal in 40 years.

Barty won the 2019 French Open, but neither she nor Tomljanovic ever had been to the quarterfinals at the All England Club.

Indeed, this was the first time in the Open era, which began in 1968, that the tournament had six first-time women’s quarterfinalists. Only Kerber and Muchova boasted past experience.

The other semifinal on Thursday will be No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka against No. 8 Karolina Pliskova, who both won in straight sets.

Sabalenka collected her tour-leading 34th match win of 2021 by eliminating No. 21 seed Ons Jabeur 6-4, 6-3 at Centre Court, and Pliskova eliminated unseeded Viktorija Golubic 6-2, 6-2 at No. 1 Court.

Pliskova, the 2016 US Open runner-up to Kerber and, like her, formerly ranked No. 1, claimed 24 of 26 points on her serve in one stretch, hit eight aces and saved the only three break chances she faced.

In the day’s lone men’s singles match, No. 14 seed Hubert Hurkacz came back to beat No. 2 Daniil Medvedev 2-6, 7-6 (2), 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the resumption of a fourth-rounder contest suspended Monday night.

Hurkacz’s first Grand Slam quarterfinal will come against 20-time major champion Roger Federer on Wednesday.

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