World No 1 Kerber ‘starting from zero’
LONDON: World No 1 Angelique Kerber says she has put her disastrous claycourt season firmly behind her and will have to start “from zero” at Wimbledon as she attempts to rediscover her best tennis over the next few months.
The German suffered a humiliating first-round exit at the French Open in May, losing to 40th-ranked Ekaterina Makarova and becoming the first top seed to be eliminated from the tournament at the very first hurdle in the professional era.
She was also forced to withdraw from a warm-up tournament in Birmingham last month with a hamstring injury, but said on Saturday that she had recovered from that setback.
“It’s great to be back,” Kerber said ahead of Wimbledon, which starts today. “I’m feeling good ... I’m healthy so far, so this is very important for me.
“I’m not thinking about Paris, about the claycourt season any more ... I’m starting from zero here.
“My mind is just day-by-day here, like last year.
“I will try to play good tennis again.”
Kerber finished runner-up at Wimbledon last year, losing to Serena Williams in the final. And with expectant mother Williams not defending her title at SW19 this year, Kerber said the tournament would have a different feel about it.
“Of course, it’s different if Serena is not here,” the German added.
“I will not put the pressure too far, too high. I’m here to really try to focus day-byday, not thinking too far, not thinking about other things, making the things maybe, again, a little bit not too complicated.
“I mean, everything is possible, in two weeks especially. It’s a long time. So we will see.”
Such has been the deterioration in Kerber’s form over the past few months that the German said it could take her months to get back to her best.
Kerber kicks off her campaign today against American Irina Falconi, who is ranked 246th in the world.
Meanwhile, Petra Kvitova says she feels “fearless” as she returns to the venue that is like a second home to her in search of another Wimbledon title.
The Czech, who reckoned it was “great to be back” just six months since her career was left hanging in the balance after an attacker stabbed her playing hand, explained on Saturday how life had been put into perspective for her by the trauma.
“I think I am little bit different on the court and off the court, too,” said the 27-yearold, who hopes that the threeyear gap between her titles in 2011 and 2014 could prove a happy omen in 2017.