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Angelique Kerber Eyes Return To No.1, Says Coach

The Belgian coach has spoken about the reasons why the former world No.1 experienced a downfall last year and looks ahead to the future.

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Angelique Kerber (zimbio.com)

Two-time grand slam champion Angelique Kerber has already got herself back on track, but the German has set herself some big goals to work towards.

 

After a roller-coaster 2017 season that saw her drop out of the top 20, Kerber has regained her momentum on the tour. So far she has won 25 out of 34 matches contested on the tour this year. Claiming her 11th WTA title at the Sydney International in January. Since then, she has reached the quarter-finals or better at five of her six tournaments.

The turnaround in Kerber’s form has been partly attributed to her coach Wim Fissette. Who joined her team at the end of 2017. 38-year-old Fissette is a renowned coach on the tour who has also worked with Victoria Azarenka, Simona Halep and Kim Clijsters. During an interview with wtatennis.com, the Belgian mentor has blamed pressure for Kerber’s downfall last season.

“Angie felt a lot of pressure last year. With all the pressure on her, and also with all the off-court activities as well – because as No.1 you have to do so much more off court – she didn’t feel fresh in her head last year.” He said.
“There was too much to do and she couldn’t enjoy being on the court and enjoy playing tennis and fighting for every point. She felt a lot of expectations on her as No.1 in the world.”

Kerber is currently ranked 12th in the world, but is aiming to reclaim the top spot one day. So far in her career, she has spent 20 weeks as world No.1. Becoming only the second German player to do so after Steffi Graf.

“Her goal is to get back to No.1 again one day, and then do things differently to how she did it last year,” Fissette said.

The next test of the Kerber-Fissette partnership will be at Roland Garros. They will be hoping that lightening doesn’t strike twice at the tournament. Last year Kerber was the top seed in the draw, but crashed out of the first round to Ekaterina Makarova. Kerber hasn’t won a match at the French Open since 2015.

Despite her recent poor record, there are still encouraging signs. At last week’s Italian Open, the German No.2 cruised to the quarter-finals before crashing out to eventual champion Elina Svitolina. A much needed confidence boost for Kerber, who had been dealing with a right thigh injury earlier in the month.

“I was very pleased with the last week in Rome, where she had four matches and played better with every match. She was playing the game she needs to play if she’s going to be successful on clay,” Fissette said.
“When she was young, she practised on carpet, so she feels a lot more comfortable on grass than on the clay. Her grip is a bit more classic so higher contact is difficult for her. But everything is about finding solutions, and adjusting her game to avoid the higher contacts, which she can do through working on her movement.”

Kerber’s best performance at the French Open was reaching the quarter-finals back in 2012. This year will be her 11th main draw appearance.

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Elina Svitolina reaches her first semifinal in six months in Strasbourg

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Number 2 seed and two-time Grand Slam champion Elina Svitolina secured her spot in her first semifinal in six months at the Internationaux in Strasbourg with a 6-4 6-3 win over two-time WTA title winner Jil Teichmann after 1 hour and 23 minutes. Svitolina came back from a break down in each set.

 

Teichmann earned an early break in the opening game of the match. The Swiss player was not able to convert tw points for 4-2 in the first set and dropped her serve. Teichmann did not convert two game points in the eighth game and Svitolina broke back to draw level to 3-3. Svitolina did not convert two break points in the eighth game, but she broke serve on her first set point. 

Svitolina won eight of the first 10 points of the second set to open up a 2-0 lead with an early break. Teichmann reeled off three consecutive games with two consecutive breaks to take a 3-2 lead. Teichmann did not convert another break point at 3-3 after three deuces. Svitolina converted her fourth break point in a four deuce game in the eighth game to win the second set 6-3. 

“I was fighting to stay in and to get the win, and I think I got rewarded. That was really good today, because I don’t let the bad games change my mindset”, said Svitolina. 

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Casper Ruud cruises past Fabio Fognini to reach the quarter final in Hamburg

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Norway’s Casper Ruud beat Fabio Fognini 6-3 6-3 to reach the quarter final at the European Open in Hamburg. 

 

The first set went on serve until the eighth game, when Ruud got his first break at 30 to take a 5-3 lead, when Fognini made two consecutive forehand errors. 

Ruud won seven consecutive games from 3-3 in the opening set to build up a 6-3 4-0 lead in the second set with two consecutive breaks. 

Fognini pulled one break back on his third chance in the sixth game to claw his way back to 3-4. Ruud closed out the match 6-3 at deuce from 15-40 down in the ninth game, when Fognini hit his first double fault. 

Ruud reached his first Masters 1000 semifinal in Rome last week and improved his win-loss record this year to 19-8. The Norwegian rising star, who won the ATP 250 title in Buenos Aires, has reached his career-high of world number 30.  

Ruud set up a quarter final against this year’s Auckland winner and Delray Beach semifinalist Ugo Humbert, who beat Jiri Vesely 6-4 6-3. After a trade of breaks in the first two games, Humbert and Vesely held on their next service games until the 10th game, when Humbert converted his second break point at deuce to take a 6-4 lead after 50 minutes, when Vesely hit a backhand into the net. 

Humbert saved two break points in the first game of the second set and broke serve to open up a 2-0 lead with a crosscourt forehand winner. Humbert reeled off five games in a row  from 4-4 in the first set to build up a 6-4 3-0 lead. Vesely saved a break point in the sixth game before breaking back in the seventh game to claw his way back to 3-4. Humbert earned his third break to open up a 5-3 lead and served out the win at 15 to score his 15th win this year. 

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Stefanos Tsitsipas battles past Pablo Cuevas to reach the quarter final in Hamburg

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Stefanos Tsitsipas battled past Pablo Cuevas 7-5 6-4 in 1 hour and 31 minutes to secure his spot to set up a quarter final against Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic. 

 

Tsitsipas fended off four break points at 4-4 and a break point at 5-5 before sealing a hard-fought first set in the 12th game after 53 minutes when Cuevas hit a double fault. 

Both players went on serve until the 10th game, when Tsitsipas earned the break at love to win the second set 6-4. 

“I have a lot of respect for him. He is a very difficult opponent to face, particularly on this surface. Cuevas is a good friend and one of my idols growing up. It was a great match and I enjoyed it. There was a certain point in the match when I forgot I needed to win, as I was enjoying the game, the atmosphere, the crowd, I was playing with positive vibes and energy”, said Tsitsipas. 

Tsitsipas will face last year’s Monte-Carlo finalist Dusan Lajovic, who cruised past Karen Khachanov 6-1 6-2 in just 62 minutes. 

Lajovic earned the break in the fourth game of the opening set to take a 3-1 lead. The Serbian player broke for the second time in the sixth game to close out the first set, when Khachanov hit a forehand into the net. 

The second set started with five consecutive breaks. Lajovic earned his third break in the fifth game, as Khachanov hit a forehand wide on break point at 2-2. Lajovic sealed the second set with his fourth break to build up 5-2 with a crosscourt forehand winner and held serve at 15 with a forehand winner to seal his 13th win of the season. 

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