Angelique Kerber will start into the world’s most important grass court tournament on Tuesday in a duel between two former Wimbledon finalists and Vera Zvonareva. For many, the Kieler is one of the top favourites for the title on Church Road. She herself tries not to let the pressure get too great.
By Ulrike Weinrich from Wimbledon
When Angelique Kerber recently asked a pointed questioner in Mallorca who would win the coveted Wimbledon title, the Kieler reacted extremely quick-witted. “Roger – Roger Federer,” Kerber replied – and grinned.
Knowing that the journalist actually wanted to know in the small discussion round on the first floor of the Country Club of Santa Ponsa who would land the big coup with the ladies in the southwest of London in 2018. Of course, the 30-year-old knows that she herself belongs to the illustrious circle of those who are at the top of the list of top favourites.
This is partly due to her past – and her final appearance in Wimbledon 2016 – and her love of lush green, which fits so perfectly with her playing style. But also the present, in which “Angie” is in strong condition. In Eastbourne last Friday, the world ranking tenth lost the semi-final duel with the later tournament winner Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark) in just three sets.
In the second round Kerber even had a match point against the world’s number two. However, there was not much time for annoyance. “It helped me that Wimbledon was at the door,” she told me about the frustration at express speed. A few hours after leaving Eastbourne, the two-time Grand Slam winner was already sitting in her car in the direction of London.
New game, new luck. And not just anywhere, but at one of their favorite events. “Wimbledon is Wimbledon. I think everyone in the world knows it. The memories I have collected there in recent years are something special, something special for me,” she said.
But Kerber doesn’t want to think too much about her good record on the holy turf, the final (2016), the semi-final (2012) and another quarter-final (2014) at the elite All England Lawn Tennis Club. The myth of Wimbledon is meant to inspire, not to paralyze, which is why she takes a sober approach: “One tries to put all this off. You go out there – and the court is just as big, the opponents are the same as in the other tournaments”.
But Kerber knows and feels that the lawn optimally multiplies its strengths. “Angie moves very well – and she beats from low positions. There she has a great control and balance. This is extremely important and effective for playing on grass. Gras and Angie, that fits,” said Toni Nadal, uncle and ex-coach of sand court king Rafael Nadal (Spain) recently in the tennisnet interview.
Uncle Toni therefore did not rely on the Czech Petra Kvitova, who has the best record of five tournament wins this season, or on his countrywoman and defending champion Garbine Muguruza, but on Kerber: “Last year I saw her round of 16 against Muguruza in Wimbledon. Angelique had so many opportunities to win this duel,” Toni Nadal recalled: “Muguruza was no better, but she won the tournament a few days later. And I think Angie will play better this time than 2017.”
Kerber, however, makes no secret of her profound relationship with the green lawn. When, about a week after her quarter-final defeat at the French Open against industry leader Simona Halep (Romania), she entered the grass to train for the first time this year, she felt “like home”. But she also knows: “Anything can happen at the Grand Slams, these tournaments have their own rules”.
Perhaps it’s a good omen that Kerber is now advertising as a brand ambassador for the leading operator of business jets. Just like Roger Federer, who is aiming for his ninth Wimbledon coronation – and for Kerber, as you know, the title favourite, Roger!