Angelique Kerber Advances in Dubai, Has Won 13 of 15 Matches This Year
(February 20, 2018) Angelique Kerber has won 13 of her 15 matches this season as she beat 2016 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships finalist Barbora Strycova 6-2, 6-1 in just 59 minutes on Tuesday.
“Yeah, I think I played a good match. I played a solid match,” said Kerber. “It’s always tough to play against her. You never know what’s happen. She’s always a fighter. But I’m happy to win the match in two sets. I like to play here in Dubai. I like the weather. It’s always nice. Yeah, it’s sunny. You have the hotel on-site. I think I just try to really enjoy my stay here every year.”
Fifth seed Caroline Garcia also advanced, firing 10 aces as she earned a 6-3, 7-5 win over Lucie Safarova.
In other matches, Qiang Wang was given a place in the main draw as a lucky loser and responded by overwhelming Kiki Bertens 6-3,6-0 in just 55 minutes to set up a second round meeting with top seed and defending champion Elina Svitolina.
There was victory too for wild card Catherine Bellis, who followed up victories last week over US Open finalist Madison Keys and former world number one Karolina Pliskova by beating Elise Mertens 6-3 6-3. Her next opponent is second seed and reigning Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza.
Dubai 2016 champion Sara Errani came through qualifying and reached the second round with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Lesia Tsurenko, but Samantha Stosur, who played a qualifying event for the first time since 2008, was edged out 1-6 6-2 6-4 by Anett Kontaveit. Carla Suarez Navarro also beat a qualifier, winning 6-2 ,6-2 against Sofya Zhuk.
Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza is seeded second, where in 2015 she reached the semi-finals but last year was forced to retire with an injury in her opening match.
She enjoyed four weeks as the number one player late in 2017, and one of her goals this year is to regain the top spot.
“It is important,” she said when she met with the assembled media on Tuesday. “I always have it in my mind, you know, to be able to fight for that. I remember it was a great feeling to be there, even though it’s tough. But I want to fight for that. I know it’s the hardest one, but I’m going to be there, try to.
“When you’re number one you feel like every tournament you play, you kind of almost have to win it, you have to always maintain a super high level to everyone you play because everybody’s playing, you know, like super relaxed, nothing to lose. You feel a lot of pressure. You realize a lot of things when you’re there. You’re like, okay, I’m here, I can’t go more up, all I can do is go down. There’s all these girls that want my spot, I have to defend it. You have this, like, alarm all the time.”