LONDON : Up-and-coming German Jule Niemeier knocked Heather Watson out of Wimbledon’s fourth round 6-2 6-4 on Sunday and apologised for disappointing the crowd by beating a home favourite.
Niemeier, 22, used her big serve and skilled net play to great effect, appearing completely at ease despite the Centre Court crowd’s clear support for Watson, who looked tight and anxious.
“I can’t believe it. I want to say sorry I had to kick out a British player today. The atmosphere was incredible…,” Niemeier, playing only her second Grand Slam tournament said.
Playing after Wimbledon staged a Centre Court centenary celebration including a parade of former champions, Niemeier was quickly into her stride, breaking 30-year-old Watson’s serve twice to win the first set.
Watson, playing the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time in 42 attempts, found some rhythm in the second set but, after she served two double faults and was broken in the seventh game, Niemeier’s stranglehold was complete.
The German, ranked 97 and playing at only her second Grand Slam tournament, reached the quarter-finals on her third match point when Watson put a forehand into the net.
“I was nervous – as soon as I stepped on the court I felt pretty confident so I just tried to focus on my game and play point by point. It went well,” Niemeier said. The German will meet compatriot Tatjana Maria in the quarter-finals.
The Dortmund-born player said she was proud to have won a match on Centre Court but had been too nervous to watch the show beforehand.
The ceremony featured more than 20 former champions as well as current men’s trophy holder Novak Djokovic.
Grand Slam record holder Margaret Court took part and there was a surprise appearance by eight-times winner Roger Federer, missing this year’s tournament through injury.
Federer’s suggestion he might compete next year drew a huge cheer as did the arrival of home winner Andy Murray and six times champion Billie-Jean King.
Before the champions trooped on court in the sunshine, 81-year-old singer Cliff Richard reprised his 1963 hit Summer Holiday from the stands, as he had done to entertain the crowd during a rain-soaked day in 1996 – before the stadium had a roof.