Kerber keeping Open expectations in check

Melbourne – Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber on Saturday said her confidence and motivation were sky high and her form good, but she is thinking no further than round one of the opening Grand Slam of the year.

Despite her reticence to look too far forward, the world number two is seen as one of the favourites for the Australian Open crown, carrying good momentum into the tournament after a stellar 2018.

The 30-year-old has the experience to make another deep run at Melbourne Park, having won in 2016.

“Now we have a new season coming, and the motivation is really high again,” she said ahead of her first round clash with Poland’s Polona Hercog.

“You know, for me it’s important to be going on court and trying to make the transit from my practice sessions to the match ones.

“I was really working hard in the pre-season, and now I’m really looking forward to having the competition and playing matches again,” added the German star.

Kerber fell to world number one Simona Halep 9-7 in the third set of an epic semi-final battle last year but was not prepared to outline her aspirations for 2019.

“I’m not putting too much expectation on me, with the results and everything like that,” she said.

“I’m here to, like always at the Grand Slams, find my rhythm, play the first round, try to do my best, then look day by day.

“I know that I am playing good right now, that I had good matches, that I have the confidence. But still it’s not easy being here. The tournament starts from zero.”

Kerber is working with new coach Rainer Schuttler, who reached the Australian Open final in 2003 where he lost to Andre Agassi.

German Tennis Association’s Barbara Rittner, who helped develop Kerber as a teenager, said recently that Schuttler would add more “daring” to her game.

Kerber said he was her first coach who actually played at the top level, and this was proving invaluable.

“He knows how it is to being under pressure, to having emotions on court. He understands my thinking,” she said.

“You know, on court he is also a hard worker. He loves the sport like me, we are both really trying to do our best. We have the passion.”

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