DESTINED FOR THE TOP
Wawrinka believes Federer can regain World No 1 spot
MIAMI MIAMI: Germany’s Angelique Kerber heads into this week’s Miami Open in the unusual position of having regained the world number one ranking despite a disappointing start to the season.
But the 29-year-old says her newly gained status will not add any extra pressure as she seeks to secure her first tournament win of 2017.
“I am number one again but this is not what is really important for me. What is important is that I go out and play good matches, that is why I am here,” Angelique said on Tuesday.
“I think I have got used already to pressure. This is not a problem one in history at the age of 35.
Federer beat Wawrinka in the final of Indian Wells on Sunday for his second win of the year following his triumph in the Australian Open — his 18th grand slam title and his first in four and a half years.
Those wins have propelled the Swiss master to sixth in the world as he makes excellent progress after a six-month layoff caused by a knee injury.
Compatriot Wawrinka believes that not only is Federer back in at all. Of course it is a new challenge, a completely new year for me, so I think its not so easy but in the end, it is just the beginning of the year, I am feeling good and practising good and I still think I can have a good year,” she said.
Angelique lost top spot to Serena Williams after the American won the Australian Open in January, but the 23-time Grand Slam winner’s knee injury forced her out of Indian Wells earlier this month and the Miami tournament.
But the Poland-based Angelique’s form has hardly been that of the world’s best.
In Calfornia she went out in the round of 16 to Russia’s eventual winner Elena Vesnina and her only form but he is playing in a noticeably different manner that gives him a chance to return to the pinnacle of the rankings.
“He’s playing really well, what is different maybe is he is playing closer from the baseline, preferring, using less his slice, he is using more top spin, putting more pressure all the time, returning better that’s the difference I seem,” Wawrinka said on Tuesday at the Miami Open.
“For sure he has a shot for number one, he has just won the first Masters final. For sure he has a big shot,” he told reporters.
Andre Agassi holds the record for being the oldest player to hold the men’s No 1 ranking, at the age of 33.
“It is going to be interesting to see. Rafa (Nadal) is playing well also and we will see when Novak (Djokovic) and Andy (Murray) are back from injury, it is going to be really interesting for tennis fans,” deep run in a tournament this year was in Dubai in February, where she lost to Ukrainian Elina Svitolina in the semi-final.
Angelique has also failed to beat a top-20 ranked player this year, raising questions about her form after a stellar 2016 in which she won the Australian Open and the US Open and was runner-up at Wimbledon.
Former World No 1 and 18-time grand slam winner Chris Evert believes Angelique is not taking enough risks with her play.
“I think it’s all in her head, and it is a big adjustment to have that number one bullseye on your back and to continue to play with the fearlessness that it took for Wawrinka said.
Wawrinka said it wasn’t a shock to see Federer, who now has 90 career titles, back to such form but that he was particularly impressed by his movement.
“From him nothing is a surprise, but for sure to see him moving that well at that age it is something amazing. It is good for me to see that you can be at the top (at that age). It is amazing to see how he is playing after a sixmonth injury.”
Federer said he was well ahead of his target of reaching the top eight before Wimbledon and said he was enjoying the very different feeling of success late in his career.
“At 25 I was winning 95 per cent of my matches and eventually you are just on this train where you just keep rolling and you just expect yourself to win a lot, you play many more tournaments and you are just racing from one to the next, it was an incredible experience her to get there,” said Chris, now an ESPN television analyst.
“She went out of the box in big matches that she won last year; she took more chances. She played more fearless tennis. She went for more shots.
“She really, to me, this year has gone back into the type of tennis she played two years ago when she was top five in the world, but not number one,” she added.
Angelique though believes she is just going through a dip in form which is simply part of a near allyear-round sport.
“I don’t think you can play (all) one year on the top level, you always have ups and downs,” she said. to be able to keep that high level for so long and be beating so many other guys and win so many finals in a row, I had some unbelievable records,” he said.
“It is definitely very different, this year is very different to any other year that I have had, last year was also very different with the injury. But with the age, the comeback, I think this is very, very special for me and I definitely see things differently to how I ever have (in the past), it is normal when you realise that you are not going to have another 15 years to play on tour,” he said.
Federer could face a strong challenge from old rival Rafa Nadal who is seeking his first ever win in Miami after losing in four finals at the Key Biscayne venue.
The Swiss, a winner in 2005 and 2006, is the only former winner in the field and is looking for a third sweep of Indian Wells and Miami titles. AFP
“I had it last year as well so I am not making a big deal out of it. I am still playing good and feeling good. You go out and play your best and the others have nothing to lose against you, that’s a new situation for me,” she said.
Should Angelique progress to the third round at Miami she will come up against 19-year-old Russian Daria Kasatikina who has already beaten her twice this year — in Sydney and Qatar.
But Angelique said that potential match-up was far from her mind.
“First I have my first round and that is the toughest thing and is what I am thinking about, I take it round by round,” she said. AFP
World No 1 Angelique Kerber