Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber ground out a 7-6 (13-11) 6-1 win over unseeded fellow German Carina Witthoeft at Wimbledon on Saturday in a third-round contest high on drama but variable in quality.
Against a now familiar backdrop of showery weather, fourth seed Kerber, an All England Club semi-finalist in 2012, began the brighter against her 21-year-old opponent, who she beat 6-0 6-0 when they met at the same venue this time last year.
But both women struggled to cope with a gusting wind in a dramatic first set lasting exactly an hour and featuring six breaks of serve.
Kerber, 28, ploughed numerous groundstrokes into the net while Witthoeft often hit long and was plagued by an inconsistent serve, making eight double faults overall.
The higher-ranked player, who upset the odds against Serena Williams to win her maiden grand slam title in Melbourne in January, looked to have blown her chances of pulling ahead when she let four consecutive first-set points slip away in the tiebreak.
But with neither woman able to make the decisive play, Kerber won the breaker 13-11 when Witthoeft hit another backhand beyond the baseline.
Notwithstanding two rain interruptions, the second set was smoother sailing for Kerber, who broke in the second game and again, on her third break point, in the sixth before serving out the match to 30.
In the fourth round, Kerber will face the winner of the match between Japan’s Misaki Doi and Germany’s Anna-Lena Friedsam.
Swiss 11th seed Timea Bacsinszky roared her way into the third round on Saturday after waking up admitting she had no idea where she was.
Bacsinszky has suffered more than most from the incessant rain delays that have plagued the tournament and had an early-morning appointment to finish off her delayed second-round match against Monica Niculescu.
She had shared the opening two sets with her Romanian opponent on Friday and was 1-0 down in the decider when the rains returned to wash out play.
But after being told by her coach to play like a lion, she reeled off six games in a row on Saturday to set up a third-round clash with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia.
“It was new for me. This morning when I woke up at 6:30, I was like, first of all, where am I? I didn’t realise I was in my room. Sometimes it happens when you travel a lot,” she told reporters.
“I don’t realise where I am, so it happened this morning, too. I was like panicked. Oh, where is everything? Ah, boyfriend is there. This is good. Safe.
“Then I was like, Oof, I have a match to play!”