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Belief the key to Kerber’s rise


 

Originally published on: 23/05/12 00:00

Twelve months ago Angelique Kerber went to the French Open as world No.69 and lost in the first round to Romania’s Edina Gallovits-Hall, who was ranked 62 places beneath her. It was Kerber’s ninth first-round defeat of a year in which she had won only one main-draw match on the WTA tour since the first week.

What a difference a year makes. The 24-year-old German will start this year’s French Open, which begins on Sunday, having just broken into the world’s top 10. She is the seventh German woman to do so following Sylvia Hanika, Bettina Bunge, Claudia Kohde-Kilsch, Steffi Graf, Anke Huber and Andrea Petkovic.

Kerber’s form did not pick up last year until after Wimbledon, where a first-round defeat to Laura Robson saw her fall to No.100 in the world rankings. Everything changed with the start of the American hard-court season. Kerber reached the semi-finals in Dallas and then did the same at the US Open, where she fell to the eventual champion, Sam Stosur.

“After Wimbledon last year I had a lot of weeks off and withdrew from all the tournaments and tried to practise on my game,” Kerber said. “Then I played the US Open, but I was not expecting [to climb up the rankings] so quickly.”

She added: “I reached the semi-finals and after this I had a lot of confidence. At the US Open I beat a lot of good players and started to believe in myself.”

Kerber finished 2011 as the world No.32 and has continued to make progress this year. She has won indoor tournaments in Paris and Copenhagen, made the semi-finals in Hobart, Auckland, Indian Wells and Rome and is now looking forward to the French Open. “I like Paris,” she said. “The last time I played [in the city] I won the tournament. I had good victories and also good memories.”

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