Tennis-Maria rallies to stun Ostapenko and reach Wimbledon quarters


Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain - July 3, 2022 Germany's Tatjana Maria celebrates winning her fourth round match against Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko REUTERS/Toby Melville

LONDON (Reuters) - Germany's Tatjana Maria continued her dream Wimbledon run when she fought from a set down and saved two match points to beat former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 5-7 7-5 7-5 on Sunday and reach the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam for the first time.

It was the biggest career victory for the mother of two who returned to action from maternity leave just under a year ago and she will play Jule Niemeier in the last eight after the German beat Briton Heather Watson 6-2 6-4.

Maria, who was ranked outside the top 250 in March, said the victory was especially sweet given her breaks from the game.

"It makes me so proud to be a mum, that's the best feeling in the world," she said in an on-court interview.

"I love my two kids... to be able to do this together... It makes it really special."

Maria made a solid start as the 25-year-old Ostapenko, who reached the semi-finals at the grasscourt major a year after her maiden Grand Slam title at Roland Garros in 2017, surrendered her serve early to trail 1-3.

But the Latvian immediately regained her composure to level the scores before switching gears to go ahead 6-5 and take the first set after world number 103 Maria made unforced errors on crucial points.

Maria, at 34 the oldest player left in the women's draw, had impressed in her stunning straight sets-victory over fifth seed Maria Sakkari in the previous round and she hit back from 1-4 down in the next set before forcing a decider.

Having saved two match points in the second set at 4-5 and with the crowd firmly behind her, Maria capitalised on a mistake from 12th seed Ostapenko to go up 6-5 in a see-saw third set before sealing the match on serve.

Maria said the boisterous support on Court One gave her the belief she needed towards the end of the contest.

"Oh my God, there are no words for this amazing crowd. Even when I was 4-5 down in the third set they were behind me," she added. "I said, 'Okay they believe in me so I believe in me'."

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond and Clare Fallon)

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