British hopes of having a man and woman in the second week of Wimbledon for the first time this century were hanging by a thread before Laura Robson fought back to beat Marina Erakovic and join Andy Murray in the last sixteen.
Robson had been a game away from defeat before going on to win 1-6, 7-5, 6-3 on a packed Court No. 2 at the All England Club in southwest London. The last time a man and woman from Britain moved to the fourth round was in 1998, when Sam Smith and Tim Henman moved to the second week.
“I was getting my butt kicked, basically,” former junior Wimbledon champion Robson said in a televised interview after a forehand winner on match point prompted the crowd to give her a standing ovation. “I was struggling to return her serve. I tried to do the best I can, tried to work as hard as I can. Just stick with it until she gets nervous, and she did.”
Erakovic had been serving for the match at 5-4 in the second set when she lost the serve and the match turned. Instead, it was all Robson from then on who dictated play, winning eight games in a row. After taking the second set, Robson raced to a 4-0 lead as she forced the 25-year-old on the defense with her left-handed forehand. The former junior Wimbledon champion, 19, will face either American wild card Alison Riske or former quarterfinalist Kaia Kanepi of Estonia in the next round.
Earlier today, former champion Petra Kvitova came back from a break down in the final set against Ekaterina Makarova to reach the fourth round.
Kvitova beat the Russian, 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 on Court No. 1. Makarova’s loss means there aren’t any Russian women in the fourth round for the first time since 2000.
Kvitova, the No. 8 from the Czech Republic, is the highest seed left in the bottom half of the draw after a record number of top ten seeds exited the event in the first week either through defeats or injuries, including No. 2 Victoria Azarenka and No. 3 Maria Sharapova.
Igor Sijsling of the Netherlands, the last serve-and-volley specialist left in the third round, retired with an injury as he trailed Croatia’s Ivan Dodig, 6-0, 6-1, 1-0. Dodig has now won two of his three matches at Wimbledon by retirement, after Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber quit in the opening round, citing flu. Sijsling’s exit is the 13th retirement or walkover this week, which equals the Open era Wimbledon record set in 2008.
Kvitova’s match has been held over from last night due to bad light as the left-hander was down a break at 1-2 in the final set on a rainy day. Kvitova started strong as the sun was shining today, taking three games in a row, only to drop her own serve. Attacking the Makarova serve, Kvitova broke back for a 5-3 lead, and moved to the fourth round with a forehand winner. She’ll play Spanish clay-courter Carla Suarez Navarro next.
“I didn’t have a good night’s sleep,” 2011 champion Kvitova said. “I finished quite late, I still had on my mind the match from yesterday. It doesn’t matter -- I came on the court and tried to fight for every point.”
Just like Kvitova, some rest also worked wonders for Sloane Stephens, the No. 17 seed from the U.S., who beat unseeded Czech Petra Cetkovska, 7-6 (7-3), 0-6, 6-4. Their third-round match had been suspended last night at the start of the third set.
“It was a little tricky,” Stephens said in a news conference. “Just had to go out and play, play hard.”
Stephens, 20, broke through at the Australian Open at the start of the season, beating Serena Williams to reach her first major semifinal. She plays Monica Puig, an unseeded player from Puerto Rico, for a spot in the quarterfinals.
Richard Gasquet, the No. 9 seed from France, was the highest-ranked player to fall today, losing to Australia’s Bernard Tomic, 7-6 (9-7), 5-7, 7-5, 7-6 (7-5). Tomic’ dad and his coach is banned from entering the grounds of the All England Club because he faces an assault charge later in the year.
France’s Kenny De Schepper upset 22nd-seeded Juan Monaco of Argentina, to set up a fourth-round match against Spain’s Fernando Verdasco, who beat Latvian Ernests Gulbis. Poland’s Lukasz Kubot, who had moved to the third round after Rafael Nadal conqueror Steve Darcis of Belgium withdrew with an injury, is into the last sixteen of Wimbledon for the second time in his career after he beat France’s No. 25 seed Benoit Paire.
Later today, defending champion Serena Williams of the U.S. plays 42-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm of Japan, while men’s top seed Novak Djokovic of Serbia faces France’s Jeremy Chardy. Sam Stosur of Australia, a former U.S. Open champion, meets Germany’s Sabine Lisicki.
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