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Kerber earns chance against Clijsters

Angelique Kerber applauds the No. 2 Court crowd after defeating Christina McHale.
by Benjamin Snyder
Friday 29 June 2012

In the only match between seeded players in the ladies’ event on Day 5, the No.8 seed Angelique Kerber defeated the No.28 seed Christina McHale.

Blustery conditions created issues for both players on serve, but experience ultimately reigned over youth. In the very first game, the left-handed Kerber broke with help from a nervy McHale, who sprayed shots long to gift her opponent an early lead.

As the set continued, it seemed Kerber would race through the next few games after appearing to hold at 1-0 with an ace at 40-0. McHale, however, quickly challenged. With cheers from the crowd, the Hawk-Eye system erased the ace. Forced to hit a second serve in a game she thought won, the German double-faulted.

Seizing on the opportunity, McHale extended the game to deuce as serving issues suddenly cropped up for her opponent. Kerber double-faulted again in the game, which would be one of four in total to McHale’s zero. The players traded break points, but the higher-ranked German proved steadier in the end, closing out the game with help from more McHale shots sailing out.

The momentum earned by Kerber carried on as the German next raced to a 4-2 lead. On one key point at 15-30 down on her serve, the players traded a barrage of shots in the swirling breeze. As the trees rattled nearby in the wind, McHale became victim to the conditions. After running toward the net to strike a volley, her white cap suddenly fell to the floor. A few more shots were struck, but the chair had already awarded the point to Kerber.

Confused, the New Jersey-native walked to the official for clarification, picking up the point-hindering hat along the way. Apparently, unhappy with the answer from the official, the No. 2 American threw the cap to her chair in disgust. Seemingly still rattled from the freak halt in play, McHale dropped the next point and fell 5-2 down in the set. In the next game, Kerber struck a clean forehand winner on her first set point chance. In total, the German would hit 22 winners over the course of the win to McHale’s 14.

Even in the wind, the dictating play that has thus far earned Kerber a WTA-leading 42-match victories this season, continued to be on display in the second set. Although McHale enjoyed a brief shift in momentum by claiming a strong start and a 3-1 lead, the highest-ranked German since Steffi Graff’s retirement in 1999 only increased her level of play.

In response to McHale’s success, Kerber rattled of four straight games. With a little help from the net, Kerber led on what would be McHale’s final service game at 15-30. With the American, who was searching for a first Grand Slam Round of 16 place, committing her 22nd error, the German secured a breakthrough of her own. Due to the victory, Kerber advanced to her first All England Club fourth round in her fifth attempt.


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