LONDON (Reuters) -Former Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber was put through the wringer early in her third-round clash with unseeded Aliaksandra Sasnovich on Saturday but the German rallied from a set down to win 2-6 6-0 6-1 after a rain interruption.
Kerber faced a tough test against Sara Sorribes Tormo in the previous round before overcoming the Spaniard in the longest women’s match at Wimbledon since 2011 and made a sluggish start on Saturday by twice dropping serve in the opening set to give Sasnovich a 4-0 lead.
World number 100 Sasnovich, taking on a second former All England champion this week after watching Serena Williams limp off injured in their opener, wrapped up the first set in style after rain temporarily halted the action on Court Two.
Kerber had warmed up for Wimbledon with her first title in three years at the inaugural Bad Homburg tournament last week and the 33-year-old showed why she cannot be written off on grass with a blistering response in the second set.
The 2018 champion shot out of the blocks, playing inspired tennis to hand her 27-year-old opponent a bagel and level the contest at one set apiece.
A wayward forehand by Sasnovich gifted Kerber the advantage at 3-1 in the decider and the only remaining Wimbledon champion in the women’s singles draw further tightened her grip on the match before finishing with an ace to reach the last 16.
“I really had a late start… Of course, it was good that it was raining a bit,” Kerber, who was trailing 1-5 in the first set when rain stopped play for 90 minutes, told reporters.
“The key was at the end that I came back on court and I was pushing myself, trying to being aggressive. She played well in the first few games but I started going out there starting from zero, not thinking about the score.”
Kerber, who was on court for three hours and 19 minutes against Sorribes Tormo before playing Sasnovich, faces another tricky test when the 25th seed faces Coco Gauff next.
The American teenager eased past unseeded Slovenian Kaja Juvan 6-3 6-3 to set up the fourth-round clash.
“I think it will be really an interesting match. I’ve never played against her before. She’s a newcomer. She’s played so many good matches, beaten top players. She’s really dangerous, especially on grass courts,” Kerber said.
“I see the fire in her. She’s really putting all the effort she has in every match. So I know it’ll be a tough match.”
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; editing by Clare Fallon)