World No 1 Ker­ber ‘start­ing from zero’

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

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.

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