LONDON: Experience overcame youth in the Wimbledon quarter-finals when 34-year-old Tatjana Maria beat Jule Niemeier, 22, 4-6 6-2 7-5 in an entertaining battle of German outsiders on Tuesday (Jul 5).
Maria, who returned from maternity leave only last summer after giving birth to her second daughter, is ranked 103 in the world and Niemeier 97.
"I have goosebumps everywhere," Maria said in a courtside interview. "It was such a tough match against Jule ... I think today we made Germany really proud."
Both women started nervously, spraying errors on either side of Court 1, but Niemeier, playing at her first Wimbledon, took the early initiative, breaking in the first game and grabbing the set when Maria put a forehand wide.
Maria, upped her game in the second set, producing some telling returns, heavy slice and deft drop shots. She took the set with a volleyed winner on Niemeier's serve.
In a match of fluctuating fortunes, big-hitting Niemeier could not find her rhythm on her greatest weapon - the serve - producing 11 double faults.
Among the unforced errors, the duo shared rallies of high quality and commitment, including a memorable 13-shot battle late in the third set when Niemeier threw herself on the turf in a vain attempt to reach a drop shot.
Neither woman had reached a Grand Slam quarter-final before but Maria held her nerve in the final set, breaking back after dropping her serve in the fifth game, then taking the match when Niemeier, on serve, netted on match point.
Watched by beaming husband and coach Charles Maria, she praised the crowd for their support and said she could not believe she had reached a Grand Slam semi-final.
"It's a dream to live this with my family, to live this with my two girls. Almost one year ago I gave birth, it's crazy," Maria said.
She will play either her friend Ons Jabeur, the third-seeded Tunisian, or 66th-ranked Czech Marie Bouzkova in the semis.