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Tennis: Kerber’s return to Wimbledon – “I have nothing to lose”

Tennis: Kerber’s return to Wimbledon – “I have nothing to lose”
Tennis: Kerber’s return to Wimbledon – “I have nothing to lose”

Since her comeback as a mother, Kerber has competed twice on the Grand Slam stage, and twice she was eliminated in the first round. Things are supposed to go better on grass. Could the Wimbledon return have an effect?

Angelique Kerber’s current role in world tennis is also reflected in the plans of the Wimbledon organizers. They sent the 2018 winner to one of the small media rooms, where she spoke about her setbacks and her return to the place of her triumph before the tournament began.

A circle of chairs instead of long rows of seats in front of her, no fixed seat for the main actress. Kerber was used to something different in her best tennis days.

Wimbledon is her third Grand Slam tournament after her comeback on the tour, which she has been playing with her daughter Liana since the turn of the year. The four Grand Slams are the most important events in tennis. The tournaments where victory or defeat is given considerably more attention than in everyday tennis. Kerber was knocked out twice in the first round.

Will Putintseva be the next stumbling block?

On Tuesday she will face a difficult match against Kazakhstani Yulia Putintseva on London’s Church Road. What if she doesn’t win on her beloved grass? “I have nothing to lose. I’m here now, I’m going to enjoy it,” said Kerber. “I’m not hectic now, not at all. I’m more relaxed and I’m staying calm because I know what I can do,” she stressed.

No, said the 36-year-old, the series of defeats starting with the first round exit at the French Open on clay and the opening exit in Berlin and Bad Homburg on grass is not getting her down. She has been experiencing highs and lows in sport for a long time. “Of course I lack the self-confidence to win the matches,” admitted the Kiel native. Self-confidence that can be particularly important on grass in short, fast rallies and tight moments. And I lack match practice.

Does remembering beautiful Wimbledon moments help?

If the former world number one loses again, the doubts about whether she can catch up again and discussions about how much longer she will play will at least not diminish. There is a vague hope that the special place can be a turning point. “It’s a special feeling to come back after all these years, of course after winning the title and the final. I have so many great memories,” said Kerber.

This time she starts as number 221 in the world with a wildcard that the organizers gave her in view of her past successes. Six years ago she won her third and so far last Grand Slam title here. As a champion, she wears a badge that identifies her as a member of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club and guarantees her lifelong access. She reached the final here in 2016 and the semifinals again in 2021, as she did in 2012.

Will the return to Wimbledon help? “I hope. I don’t know,” admitted Kerber: “I’ve played such good matches here, but I’ve also played so many matches here that hurt. Of course, the beautiful moments and emotions that I’ve had here outweigh everything else. And I hope that I’ll notice that again and be able to implement it on the court.”

Wimbledon is a priority for Kerber

Although expectations were low for her at the Australian Open, not much time had passed since her comeback. Although hopes were low at the French Open, they were often difficult for her. Grass should be her focus in the comeback year.

In training with Jule Niemeier, she appeared fit and quick on her feet. Observed by her mother Beata and partner Franco Bianco, she prepared with coach Torben Beltz. “She is still very dangerous. Especially on grass, because she plays very flat balls,” praised world number three Aryna Sabalenka in Berlin. “It is difficult to play at the top level again after a pregnancy. It takes time. Maybe she is not back to 100 percent yet, but she will get there.”

Her next opponent is likely to have the confidence that Kerber lacks. Putintseva just secured her first title in Birmingham. But Kerber was not entirely unhappy with the draw. After all, the Kazakh is not an opponent who she can “completely chop away” with her speed. And she is not left-handed, which does not suit her as a left-handed player.

“I hope that I can somehow find the connection here,” said Kerber. She added that it doesn’t matter who she meets in the second round: “I have to win the first round first.”

Source: Stern

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