Wimbledon: Angelique Kerber edges past Jelena Ostapenko in straight sets

Angelique Kerber made her return to the final of the Wimbledon Championships as the German ousted world number 12 Jelena Ostapenko in their first-ever meeting to set up a blockbuster meeting with Serena Williams.

Angelique Kerber
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Jelena Ostapenko

It was a scaringly good and solid performance from two-time Major champion and former world number one Angelique Kerber as she returned to the final of the Wimbledon with a terrific victory over world number 12 Jelena Ostapenko in the semifinals at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, overcoming a late wobble to triumph with a straightforward 6-3, 6-3 scoreline after just a quick one-hour and seven minutes of play.

Ostapenko, with her famous explosive game, fired 30 winners in the 67 minutes of action but that also came along with a heavy price of 35 unforced errors. Whereas, Kerber was the much more conservative player out on the court, hitting just a mere 10 winners to a clean seven unforced errors but was able to force out many errors from the erratic Latvian, counterpunching her way to sealing another ticket to the Wimbledon final.

Angelique Kerber returns to the Wimbledon final and faces Serena Williams there | Photo: Michael Steele/Getty Images Europe
Angelique Kerber will return to the Wimbledon final | Photo: Michael Steele/Getty Images Europe

Kerber recovers from an early scare to take the first set

The first game perfectly represented how the match would shape like — with Ostapenko controlling play by blasting five powerful winners alongside three risky unforced errors. The Latvian conceded the first break point with a forehand straight into the net but recovered to close out the tricky opening game with an ace, hitting consecutive backhand winners in the process.

Quick service holds for Kerber followed but Ostapenko continued to face troubles with her inconsistency, an issue with her game which had bothered her throughout her career. The world number 12 was forced to save yet another break point, this time forcing Kerber to commit a forced error en route to holding her serve in a nervy game.

Jelena Ostapenko was firing on all cylinders in the early stages | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Europe
Jelena Ostapenko was firing on all cylinders in the early stages | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Europe

After what seemed like an eternity and all her struggles on serve, Ostapenko finally had something to celebrate after earning her maiden break point opportunity in the following game. Stunningly enough, Kerber produced an incredible ace served out wide, fending off the opportunity and ultimately held serve for 3-3. With the benefit of hindsight, this was the start of a devastating run for the German.

Ostapenko rued her missed chance and she seemed to be affected mentally by the failure to convert the break point; getting broken for the first time with a long backhand which gifted Kerber with the first breakthrough of the match. Kerber was brought to deuce but finished her service game with another ace to close it out in a nervy way, consolidating the break for a formidable 5-3 lead.

Angelique Kerber with her famous squat shot | Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Europe
Angelique Kerber hitting her famous squat shot | Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Europe

Serving to stay in the set, Ostapenko was increasingly frustrated with her rising numbers of unforced errors and the pressure ultimately got to her nerves as the Latvian sent in a double-fault on set point, allowing Kerber, the 2016 finalist, to be just a set away from returning to the same stage on Saturday again.

Kerber overcomes late nerves to grab the win

It was the best possible start to the second set for Kerber, who was playing some calm and composed tennis. Her solid game proved too much for Ostapenko as she did not give the Latvian enough rhythm to play her explosive style of tennis, and this allowed the German to start the second set by rattling off 12 of the first 16 points and storming out to a 3-0 lead within a blink of an eye.

Jelena Ostapenko was incredibly frustrated with her erratic game during the match | Photo: Michael Steele/Getty Images Europe
Jelena Ostapenko was incredibly frustrated with her erratic game during the match | Photo: Michael Steele/Getty Images Europe

Kerber continued to apply the pressure and Ostapenko could not find the court anymore — firing a total of 17 unforced errors throughout the second set alone. Nonetheless, the Latvian saved a match point with some stunning aggressive play, showing some tough fight as she came out of nowhere to retrieve one of the breaks back.

Kerber’s level experienced an obvious dip but Ostapenko also gained confidence in her play as she started to gain the rhythm yet again. She claimed a confidence-boosting service hold before an improbable comeback seemed on the cards, with the Latvian earning a break point in the eighth game. However, Ostapenko sent a backhand wide and she will regret going all out for that shot since Kerber rebounded to claim the impressive win after just 67 minutes of play.