London: Angelique Kerber made her case to be labelled the new favourite for the Wimbledon title as the German eased into the third round with a 7-5, 7-5 win over Kirsten Flipkens on Thursday.
Kerber was beaten by Serena Williams in last year's Wimbledon final and with the American star sidelined while she prepares to give birth, the world number one hopes to fill the power vacuum at the All England Club.
After winning the Australian and US Opens last year, Kerber has endured a miserable time in 2017, culminating in an embarrassing French Open first round loss to Ekaterina Makarova last month.
But the 29-year-old's chances of adding the Wimbledon title to her trophy cabinet improved signficantly over the last 24 hours as third seed Karolina Pliskova and two-time champion Petra Kvitova were eliminated.
Kerber hadn't lost to a player ranked outside the top 80 since 2015 and she wore down Belgian world number 88 Flipkens, a former Wimbledon semi-finalist, in a fiercely contested encounter on Court One.
The bookmakers still don't make her the favourite, with that tag now going to Britain's Johanna Konta.
But Kerber, who faces Lucie Safarova or Shelby Rogers for a place in the last 16, is rolling towards the title.