THE season’s first Grand Slam in Australia last month dealt a double blow to Angelique Kerber. First, her title defence ended in the fourth round, where she was dumped by rising American star Coco Vandeweghe.
A couple of days later, she had to cede her No.1 ranking to eventual winner Serena Williams.
Though the season has only begun, it is fair to say that the left-hander, who triumphed at the Australian Open in 2016 and became the first German since Steffi Graf to win a Grand Slam, would be disappointed with her start.
World No.2 Kerber has not found her feet at all in 2017.
At the season opener in Brisbane, she lost to unheralded Ukrainian Elina Svitolina in the quarterfinal and that was followed by an equally-disappointing second-round defeat to Russian teenager Daria Kasatkina in Sydney.
But the 29-year old, the top seed at the ongoing Qatar Total Open which began at the Khalifa International Complex last Monday, is not unduly worried and believes it is only a matter of time before she wins her confidence back.
“I’ll do my best in the next few months. If you play good tennis, then you’ve results. This is actually the most important thing for me — to win matches again, getting the confidence back, and then see what’s gonna happen in the near future,” said Kerber.
With Serena unlikely to hit the courts until at least the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells in March, Kerber can close the gap with her perpetual rival if she reaches the final in Doha and the upcoming event in Dubai.
But Kerber was looking at the larger picture instead.
“The priority is to try to improve my game. That’s actually my goal always,” Kerber added.
The two-time Grand Slam winner has not played since the Australian Open and no wonder she was one of the early birds to arrive in Doha.
“After Australia, I went back home and I spent a few days at home, doing nothing actually, just being at home. I had like few weeks off. But I think it was not bad to get a bigger rest, to get ready for these two tournaments.
“I came to Doha a little bit early to get ready and used to the courts and the weather conditions. I’m feeling ready to play again because, after Australia, it’s been a long time since I played matches,” Kerber signed off with her characteristic smile.