In tennis, there are pictures that present how a participant walks, how assured he’s and the way snug he’s on the court docket. With Angelique Kerber, this shot is her forehand, the hit is lengthy, easy and quick. Shooting is harmful, timing have to be proper. So, if Kerber pushes the baseline down the court docket throughout a rally, if she dares to take a shot and hit it, then she is harmful for each opponent.
Many of Kerber’s forehands whizzed over the online in the primary spherical of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart on Wednesday night time, simply out of attain for her opponent, world quantity six Anette Kontaveit of Estonia. Kerber’s pictures have been too secure, too correct for her – however just for one sentence. In the second and third units, Kerber additionally hit some forehands value watching, however most of them went off the hook or into the online. In the tip, Kerber got here throughout as a participant who did not hit her greatest when she wanted it most.
She misplaced 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, and the loss tells a small story a couple of greater challenge that has plagued Kerber for weeks. He performs respectable, generally superb tennis. He pushes sturdy opponents to their limits, however he cannot win. “In the tip, a few factors determined it again. Unfortunately, not for me,” Kerber mentioned after the match. One of essentially the most painful experiences for a tennis participant is seeing the end line in a match, however always stumbling in entrance of it.
Kerber, 34, has achieved it in three straight video games. Every week earlier than the match in Stuttgart, he performed in Kazakhstan on the Billie Jean King Cup, the successor to the Fed Cup. She misplaced to Yulia Putintseva 6:3, 3:6, 2:6. Against world quantity 19 Yelena Rybakina, she even served to win the third-spherical match 5-3 – the set ended 5-7. Of course, a slender loss is healthier than being swept 6-1, 6-1. But in case you typically fail, you would possibly need to give it some thought the following time you are vital. “At the tip of the day, it’s important to win these matches,” Kerber mentioned. You understand how it’s: “You want a match that offers me this sense of change, this confidence.”
In 2022, Kerber received solely two matches
He wants to search out that feeling sooner quite than later as a result of his whole season wants a change. Stuttgart’s untimely defeat is the following stage in Kerber’s troublesome journey to in some way discover her method into 2022. Sidelined by the corona virus, Germany’s prime tennis participant misplaced in the primary spherical on the Australian Open, Doha and Miami. Although he’s nonetheless on the seventeenth place in the world rating, he can be on the 96th place if he counted the factors he has collected this yr.
Kerber received simply two matches at Indian Wells in 2022, dropping to Iga Sviatek in the ultimate. He managed the feat of getting a sentence from the world primary. No participant has achieved that since. But in the tip it occurred again: a 3-set defeat.
Tennis is a continuing wrestle to search out the proper steadiness between offense and security. Kerber has the flexibility to carry the 2 poles into optimum steadiness. Then it protects easily, virtually completely. Then, when the time is correct, he’ll assault. In this Zen mode, Kerber received three Grand Slams. Kerber had already set that objective earlier than this season, when she was with out a coach: she “needed to play huge tournaments for giant titles.”
There have been durations towards Kontaveit the place Kerber confirmed her sport might attain this degree. He defended, he attacked, he fought again when he fell behind in the third set. “He performed rather well,” Kontaveit mentioned. What was lacking was consistency. Especially in essential conditions, Kerber made minor errors. He dropped his first service sport in the third set with a double fault – which he finally misplaced.
After the match, as she sat in entrance of reporters in black, Kerber appeared downcast. “Of course, it is a pity that I can not play right here now. It was an important match for me,” he mentioned. He received in Stuttgart in 2015 and 2016, his model of play higher suited to the quicker indoor circumstances than the slower outside clay courts that might be performed in the approaching weeks.
Afterwards, Kerber mentioned she felt good on the court docket and was bodily prepared. Basically, the one factor lacking is the sensation of successful again in a aggressive match.