LONDON • Angelique Kerber was on the brink of losing the world No. 1 ranking yesterday before the German scraped into the Wimbledon last 16 with a tense 4-6, 7-6 (7-2), 6-4 victory over Shelby Rogers.
In order to retain top spot in the WTA rankings, Kerber has to return to the Wimbledon final 12 months after losing the title match against Serena Williams.
The 29-year-old was on the verge of crashing out in the third round after losing the first set and falling a break down in the second against American world No. 70 Rogers.
But Kerber, who won the Australian and US Opens last year, gamely battled back to level the match in a second set tie-break before edging through in the decider.
Agnieszka Radwanska, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Coco Vandeweghe, Magdalena Rybarikova and qualifier Petra Martic also won their third-round ties.
Kerber next faces Spanish 14th seed Garbine Muguruza, another former Wimbledon runner-up, for a place in the quarter-finals.
"I think it's an exciting match," Muguruza, who defeated Sorana Cirstea of Romania 6-2, 6-2, said.
Men's 3rd rd: Tomas Berdych (Cze) bt David Ferrer (Esp) 6-3 6-4 6-3, Adrian Mannarino (Fra) bt Gael Monfils (Fra) 7-6(7-3) 4-6 5-7 6-3 6-2, Milos Raonic (Can) bt Albert Ramos (Esp) 7-6(7-3) 6-4 7-5, Sam Querrey (USA) bt Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (Fra) 6-2 3-6 7-6(7-5) 1-6 7-5, Grigor Dimitrov (Bul) bt Dudi Sela (Isr) 6-1 6-1 ret.
Women's 3rd rd: Garbine Muguruza (Esp) bt Sorana Cirstea (Rom) 6-2 6-2, Agnieszka Radwanska (Pol) bt Timea Bacsinszky (Sui) 3-6 6-4 6-1, Svetlana Kuznetsova (Rus) bt Polona Hercog (Slo) 6-4 6-0, Petra Martic (Cro) bt Zarina Diyas (Kaz) 7-6(8-6) 6-1, Coco Vandeweghe (USA) bt Alison Riske (USA) 6-2 6-4.
"It's a long time I didn't play against her. I look forward to it. I love this kind of match.
"I think when you play top players, first of all you got to have your best level. I think I kind of found a good level, good shots, good serve, playing against her."
If Kerber, who regained the top ranking from Williams in March, fails to make the final she will surrender her coveted world ranking to Romania's Simona Halep or Czech Karolina Pliskova.
Earlier yesterday, American Bethanie Mattek-Sands, whose agonising on-court injury shocked Wimbledon, said that she will need surgery and faces being sidelined from the game.
The 32-year-old was left screaming on the court after injuring her knee against Cirstea on Thursday and was carried off court and taken to hospital.
"I have had lots of injuries in my career but this is definitely the worst," she announced to her fans during a Facebook Live chat.
"I am flying to New York on Sunday to see more doctors. I ruptured my patellar tendon, and I'm going to be needing surgery, so I'll be out for a while."
In the men's draw, Sam Querrey took one game to beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in a match suspended on Friday due to bad light.
At 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 1-6, 6-5, the French 12th seed did not want to serve as the light faded, though Querrey was happy to receive.
And it was all over in a matter of minutes yesterday as the American 24th seed broke serve.
Dudi Sela was forced to pull out at 6-1, 6-1 down to Grigor Dimitrov after struggling with a right-thigh injury, the 11th retirement at the championships.