Angelique Kerber Is Nearing The Brink Of A Crises

Angelique Kerber (zimbio.com)

Angelique Kerber might be the world No.1, but she heads to Roland Garros with nothing to loose following a lacklustre performance on the clay so far this season.

On Wednesday the German was kicked out of the Italian Open by Estonia’s Annette Kontaveit, who blasted 32 winner past Kerber. To add further insult, she was bageled for only the second time since January 2016. The loss means she embarks upon Roland Garros with only two wins on the clay this year from last week’s Madrid Open.

“I’m of course i’m disappointed with how I’m playing. I’m not playing my best tennis right now.” Admitted Kerber.

It isn’t just a loss of form that has led to her recent decline, a troublesome leg issue ended her campaign in Madrid. Fortunately the leg issue appears to be a thing of the past for the 29-year-old, who is confident about her current fitness. It is a reassuring sign, but it leads to more unanswered questions.

With a win loss of 19-12 this season, Kerber’s best run was runner-up at the Monterrey Open in Mexico. Elsewhere, she also reached the semifinals at the Doha Open, losing to Elina Svitolina. The results are not the most concerning aspect for Kerber. It is the fact the she is yet to defeat a top-20 player, suffering seven consecutive losses since January. A sharp contrast to 2016, when she clinched two grand slam titles.

“I think it’s for sure it’s not the easiest time right now for me, but I think that I have to look for solutions right now.” She said. “I think that my movement is not the best, especially on clay.”

What is the answer?

Kerber’s upbeat mentality is welcoming, but not encouraging. Throughout the season she has repeatedly said she has been training well, but can’t convert her form during competitive play. It appears as if the extremely likable player is stuck in a vicious circle. One that she is unsure about how to get out of.

“I don’t know. We will see.” She responded when asked how near she was to fixing her game. “I think I need one good match, maybe to get my confidence back and then seeing that it works.
“I’m working hard, I’m trying practicing really hard and trying to improve my the movement, especially on clay, because it’s not 100%.”

Few can doubt the efforts she is investing on the court, but maybe this isn’t the problem. The issue could be a more complex one, her mentality. Serena Williams once described tennis as ‘70% mental.’ Could it be that the pressure of being known as the best player in the world is hindering her game? A theory that can also be applied to Andy Murray and his current struggles on the men’s tour.

“It’s a new situation being No. 1 but you cannot think about this. It’s still a big privilege, but I try to find my way to coming back.” She explained. “It’s not the best time now, but you have always up-and-downs, and this is a challenge to coming back maybe stronger.”

Set to be the top seed, Kerber enters Roland Garros aware that she may not be the favourite for the title. It is an unusual perspective for a No.1 player, but a realistic one. She has the game to compete with the best in the world, but producing it is proving to be a tough task. Time is running out and a positive attitude no longer cuts it for Kerber. A reality that she is starting to realise.

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