Defending champion Angelique Kerber will be hoping for an easier time in her round two clash on Wednesday when she faces Carina Witthoeft in the Wednesday day session on Rod Laver Arena. The World No.1 survived an impressive performance by Lesia Tsurenko to progress in three sets, 6-2 5-7 6-2.
With her No.1 status not confirmed until midway through the US Open, this is the first slam Kerber has been no.1 seed at and it was a troublesome start for the German. “I think it’s always good to have a match like this in the first few rounds. I mean, it’s always tough for everybody to get the rhythm and to start the tournament, especially the Grand Slam, the first Grand Slam of the year.” she said. The key moment in the match came in the third set when Kerber saved break point down 1-2 and would not a drop a game from then on.
Witthoeft has established herself in the top 100 but has never looked like challenging the top level players. She has thrice made the third round at slams including at last year’s Wimbledon where Kerber was the one to defeat her. The World No.1 took the first set in a lengthy tiebreaker before pulling away in the second set. However, it was a slight improvement on their other meeting the previous year at Wimbledon – where Kerber won 6-0 6-0.
Surviving a tougher match, and in that case match point, last year was what set Kerber on her way to eventually being champion to begin an outstanding year. Perhaps her opener will provide the same impetus to push on once more. Kristyna Pliskova or Irina Camelia Begu awaits the winner in round two while Eugenie Bouchard and Coco Vandeweghe are the most probably opponents in the way of another quarter final for Kerber. Meanwhile, her biggest rival for the title navigated a potentially troublesome opener. Serena Williams won in straights over Belinda Bencic with only a late rally making the score look competitive in the second.
Angelique Kerber in straight sets
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