Qualifying begins: 26 June
The Draw: 30 June
Pre-event Press Conferences: 1 & 2 July
Order of Play: 2 July
Championships begin: 3 July
COME BACK FOR LIVE SCORES & LIVE BLOG FROM 26 JUNE
On the brink of yet another early Grand Slam exit and with her No.1 ranking on the line, the real Angelique Kerber finally stood up.
Down a set and a break against Shelby Rogers, Kerber looked at times more like a deer in headlights than the women’s No.1 seed as she had no answer to the two dozen winners struck by the American, ranked No.70.
But the German eventually prevailed in two hours and 17 minutes on No.2 Court, winning 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-4.
After Rogers failed to take a break point to take a 5-2 lead in the second set, Kerber finally came alive when she set up a break point of her own at 4-3 down with some sensational defending skills. Out of the point several times, Kerber scrambled around the baseline before sprinting to the net to pick up a drop volley and hit it past Rogers.
“Komm jetzt!” Kerber shouted at her box, followed by a massive double fist-pump when she clinched the break to level at 4-4.
"When I look back, that was the most important point of the match,” Kerber told reporters afterwards in German. “That was the point that turned the match around. I was waiting for my chances, and I got it in the second set. It was a case of moving well after that.”
I will have to be aggressive, and I have to dictate
Although the two-time Grand Slam winner lost the opening point of the tie-break on a net cord, she raced to a 4-1 lead with a string of winners and took the match into a decider when Rogers played a bad drop shot which she easily put away on her second set point.
What followed was a see-saw third set, with Rogers handing her opponent the break in the opening game with her first double fault. But Kerber was unable to capitalise as she got broken in the fourth game. Breaking once again to take a 4-3 lead as she surprised Rogers with a couple of well-placed drop shots, Kerber managed to hold this time.
Serving for a spot in the last 16 at 5-4, Kerber set up three match points with an 85 mile-per-hour serve out wide. She moved into the second week with another big serve on the second match point.
So dominant in 2016, when she backed up her Australian Open triumph with a run to her first Wimbledon final before adding a second Grand Slam at the US Open, Kerber hadn’t looked comfortable with her status at The Championships.
Last month at Roland Garros, she became the first women’s No.1 seed to be bundled out of the first round when she lost to Russian Ekaterina Makarova. In January, she had been dethroned as the Australian Open champion by the big-serving American CoCo Vandeweghe. If she had lost to Rogers, she would have been knocked off the top spot by either Simona Halep or Karolina Pliskova.
She admitted afterwards that her win against Rogers from a seemingly lost position may just have turned her season around.
“It was a very important match for me,” she said. “Last year, I came back so many times. It was important to have that self-awareness from last year again. I can do it, I can turn the matches around again. It is back.”
She will face a different opponent in her next round, when she plays 2016 French Open winner and former Wimbledon finalist Garbiñe Muguruza from Spain.
The pair have played seven times, with Kerber losing the last four meetings, including a third-round clash at Wimbledon two years ago, when the Spaniard reached the final.
“I will have to be aggressive, and I have to dictate,” Kerber said.
As for the Middle Sunday, Kerber is looking forward to spending “no more than two hours” in the city before relaxing with her entourage of 14 people, including her mother, at her rented Wimbledon home.