Angelique Kerber's year gets better by the minute. The eighth-seeded, 24-year-old German from Kiel delighted a packed Court 18 with a sterling display in defeating Russia's Ekaterina Makarova 7-5, 6-3 in one hour 29 minutes to reach the third round of the Ladies' Singles and continue a season which has featured a rise in ranking from 32 to single figures. It also brought the first two tournament victories of her career, at the Paris indoor event and Copenhagen.
Kerber was also the runner-up at the recent Eastbourne grass court event, where she had a straight-sets victory over Makarova in the quarter-finals, so although today's win was no surprise it was certainly hard-earned over her fellow left-hander.
The start of the match was slightly delayed by Makarova's late arrival on court and, having been required to step onto court immediately to start the warm-up, the Russian continued to play at full gallop. She broke Kerber in the third game with a couple of fierce forehands down the line, at which the German woman double-faulted.
Mixing up her service game cleverly, with the occasional 70mph slow delivery thrown in, Makarova dominated the opening set but was unable to convert the handful of break opportunities she has fashioned against the uncertain Kerber. She fluffed one break point which would have given her a 4-1 lead and then missed four more at 4-2. That turned out to be the peak of her afternoon as Kerber gradually got her game together, serving better and striking the ball with more power and depth.
From 3-5, Kerber swept four games, converting her first break point to pull level at 5-5 when a Makarova forehand floated wide and then closing out the set in 51 minutes when she ran down a drop shot, forcing the Russian to send a forehand into the tramlines. Makarova had managed to convert just one of her seven break opportunities, while Kerber cashed in on two out of three.
Kerber's domination of the second set, particularly on serve, was highly impressive. She dropped just two points in five service games and Makarova, in contrast, spent an increasingly anxious time fending off break point after break point until, once again, Kerber accelerated away from 3-3 to claim the next three games in unstoppable fashion.