Michaella Krajicek, the Dutch teenager making her third visit to The Championships, secured a place in the quarter-finals for the first time with an emphatic 6-3, 6-4 victory over Laura Granville of the United States.
A powerful striker of the ball, it isn’t really surprising to find this ‘junior’ striding through the ladies’ singles draw. The 18-year-old had already dispatched British No.1 Katie O’Brien for the loss of just one game, followed by the eighth seeded Russian, Anna Chakvetadze in a three-hour, three-set, slugfest.
Already ranked 45, with three titles to her name and seeded 31, Krajicek today proved too strong for her unseeded 26-year-old opponent from Chicago, who despite some strong play found herself struggling against the more weighty groundstrokes of the Dutchwoman.
There was little to separate the two in the early stages, where Granville looked to be the more adventurous with the greater variety of shot. But upon failing to convert a break point in the fifth game, she found herself swamped by her young opponent.
Krajicek saved her serve with an ace, as befits the family name – her brother Richard was the men’s singles champion in 1996 – and it was the serve which was to be her major weapon as she held off Granville twice more in the seventh when taken to six deuces.
A frustrated Granville then watched two aces fly past her as Krajicek claimed the opening set and gained the early initiative in the second, again driving the ball to both corners to keep the American at full stretch and in defensive mode.
Two breaks enabled Krajicek to establish a 4-1 lead when play was suspended but it would be nearly two hours later, after a rain delay, before Krajicek could continue her charge to the line.
But the break also affected her concentration. When they returned, Granville was quicker into her stride and soon had regained one of the breaks with the help of some fierce strikes, preventing Krajicek from regaining her earlier momentum.
However the American’s efforts proved to be in vain for, as Krajicek warmed up, her serve clicked back into place. At 5-3, her groundstrokes and returns found their range and power and, despite losing three match points in the ninth game, she went on to serve it out, securing her place in the last eight with a fiercely hit drive down the line.
It was a nervy ending for Krajicek, who could well have done without the rain break, and it came just in time. Within minutes of hitting that winning shot, the heavens opened to bring the day’s play to an abrupt end.
Written by Henry Wancke
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