Heather Watson’s brilliant Wimbledon run came to an end at the hands of Jule Niemeier.
The 30-year-old Brit lit up the opening week at SW19, as she advanced to the fourth round for the first time in her career - but it came to an end on Centre Court on Sunday.
Watson struggled on serve and could not cope with the power of her German opponent, who wrapped up a 6-2 6-4 win.
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Speaking afterwards on court, Niemeier said: "I can’t believe it, definitely not.
"I just want to say sorry for kicking out a British player today.
"The atmosphere was incredible, I was nervous. But as soon as I stepped onto the court I felt pretty comfortable.
"I tried to focus on my game play point by point, and it went well. I’m super proud of myself.
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"The court is so beautiful and I am honoured to [have been able] to play on Centre Court.”
Eurosport expert Mats Wilander reflected on a huge missed opportunity for Watson.
Wilander said: "It was Watson's best Wimbledon at the most unexpected time in her career, but the biggest opportunity missed for her.
"She’s going to go back to the locker room and find out that she could have played [unseeded] Tatjana Maria for a place in the semis.”
Niemeier dominated behind her serve all afternoon, and it took Watson until the seventh game of the opening set to take a point off the German’s serve.
As she struggled with her opponent's weight of shot, Watson cut a frustrated figure and a couple of breaks of serve were enough for Niemeier to wrap up the opening set.
Watson gave the Centre Court crowd something to cheer when holding serve in gutsy fashion at the start of the second set, and the decibel level increased when the Brit broke for a 2-0 lead.
But Watson kept throwing in errors and one in the ensuing game proved costly as Niemeier broke back immediately.
Watson had chances again in the seventh game on Niemeier's serve, but the German found her spots to to stave off the threat and it appeared to deflate Watson.
A forehand into the tramlines from Watson in the eighth game handed Niemeier three break points. Watson saved the first but a double fault was met with an audible groan as Niemeier moved into the ascendancy.
Niemeier's easy power was impressive, but she also showed a deft touch and a gorgeous volley in the ninth game of the second set highlighted the 22-year-old's potential on the big stage.
Watson held serve in the ninth to force Niemeier to serve it out. With a quarter-final place against fellow German player Tatjana Maria beckoning, nerves could have been a factor. But there were no outward signs as Niemeier wrapped up the win in an hour and 16 minutes.
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Watch daily highlights from Wimbledon at 10pm on Eurosport 2 and discovery+ from June 27, as well as the two singles finals live on July 9 and 10.
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