Maria moves into Wimbledon semis after titanic all-German battle on No.1 Court

By Charlie Stong at Wimbledon

Tatjana Maria bt Jule Niemeier 4-6, 6-2, 7-5.

Tatjana Maria is into her first Wimbledon semi-final after a titanic battle against fellow countrywoman Jule Niemeier on No.1 Court.

The world number 103 beat a woman 12 years her junior, but just six places above her in the rankings, 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 in 2hrs 18mins.

She came from a set and a break down in a fantastic match, after which she said: ““It was such a tough match. Today we made Germany really proud after our match.

“I have great support around me. This court is amazing, this crowd is amazing and it is such a pleasure to play here.

“One year ago I just gave birth so it is a pleasure to be here with my family.”

Niemeier made the stronger start, breaking Maria’s serve in the first game of the match, putting pressure on her opponent with deep groundstrokes and one impressive overhead.

She then backed that up by holding thanks to a fine in-out cross-court forehand.

Niemeier then had a point to make it 3-0 but Maria was able to hold for her first game after three deuces.

The Niemeier serve was threatened for the first time when Maria went ahead 0-30 in the next game, but some strong serving and more fine overhead pay from Niemeier saw her take a 3-1 lead.

But Maria was finding her feet and getting into the match – comfortably holding her next service game to trail 2-3.

A forehand from Niemeier appeared long on the first point of the next game but it was not called and Maria only showed her displeasure with the umpire after having failed to challenge. And her opponent went on to hold for a 4-2 lead.

Germany’s Jule Niemeier in action against Tatjana Maria (Picture: PA)

Two more service holds took the score to 5-3 in Niemeier’s favour, before an exquisite drop shot from Maria made it 5-4.

A wild forehand from Maria cross court brought up two set points for her opponent, and when she then hit her next forehand wide Niemeier took it, 6-4.

Niemeier struck again in the first game of the next set. She gave herself a point for a break with a lovely backhand lob before a backhand down the line secured the break.

But Maria then kicked into gear. Niemeier served a double fault at deuce before Maria took the game with a perfect drop shot at the net.

Niemeier again served a double fault to hand Maria a game point in her next service game – an opportunity her opponent duly took.

Maria then served out a huge game – despite Niemeier recovering from 40-0 to deuce, and her lead now looked commanding at 4-1.

Niemeier did at least manage to stop the run of four straight Maria games with a love service hold, but her opponent moved within touching distance of the second set at 5-2 thanks to a fine forehand down the line.

And she secured it on the Niemeier serve when a perfect lob dropped on the baseline. Niemeier could only hit it back through her legs to Maria, who was standing on top of the net waiting for the simplest of vollies to make it one set all.

Niemeier made the first move in the final set, Maria netting a backhand to set up break point before hitting a forehand long to hand Niemeier the break advantage at 3-2.

She then held serve after a nervy game in which she was taken to deuce three times but now had a two-game advantage in the deciding set at 4-2 and was just two games from victory.

But pressure can do strange things, and she then fell to 0-40 in her next service game – Maria taking the second of three break points to level things at 4-4.

Maria then held to 15 for a 5-4 lead, forcing Niemeier to serve to stay in the match.

Action from No.1 Court (Picture: Charlie Stong)

Niemeier smashed an overhead into the net to bring up 15-30 in the next game – a point she would have snapped up easily in the first set.

But she responded with some good net play to take the next two points to lead 40-30 before Maria netted to hand Niemeier the game at 5-5.

An overhead smash gave Niemeier the advantage at 15-30 in the next game, and although Maria took the next two points it went to deuce, and when Maria netted a backhand, Niemeier had a point to move 6-5 up – and to serve for the match.

However Maria saved the point and then won the game thanks to Maria hitting a forehand wide.

Maria produced a fine return on the first point of the next game to take a 0-15 lead, but that trusty overhead returned for Niemeier to level at 15-15.

However a simple backhand went straight into the net to hand Maria 15-30, and when a backhand slice dropped long, Maria found herself with two match points.

Niemeier netted a simple backhand into the net to hand Maria the victory as the pair embraced at the net at the end of a fantastic match.

Pictured top: Tatjana Maria reacts after beating fellow countrywoman Jule Niemeier on No.1 Court today (Picture: PA)







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