Melbourne: Angelique Kerber has turned the page on a horror 2017 season and is focused firmly on making a fresh start to her career, the German said after sailing into the second round at Melbourne Park on Tuesday.
The 29-year-old enjoyed a bumper 2016, winning the Australian and US Opens, picking up an Olympic silver medal and becoming the first German world No. 1 since Steffi Graf.
Her form, however, deserted her last year when she failed to win back-to-back matches at 13 events and made just one final, at Monterrey, to finish the year at No. 22.
“You know, I think last year I will actually not speak about this anymore,” she said after defeating fellow German Anna-Lena Friedsam 6-0, 6-4 at the Hisense Arena.
“I mean, last year was really not the best year, everybody knows, and it was a lot of new experience. But I’m also thankful about all the things, because I think I’m growing ...” Kerber signalled her resurgence with her triumph at the Sydney International on Saturday and was optimistic about 2018 following her flawless start to the new season.
“I think so far it was a good season, the start of the good season, and I’m just trying to playing every single match each.
“I’m not trying to focusing too much on ahead, on past, or what’s happened in the last year. I’m just trying to really restart again and try to enjoy my tennis again.”
Kerber will take on Donna Vekic of Croatia in her next match.
Johanna Konta skipped past Madison Brengle into the second round, the Briton overpowering her American opponent 6-3 6-1 in 66 minutes on Hisense Arena.
Australia-born Konta, who reached the semi-finals at Melbourne Park two years ago, brushed off an early exit in her Sydney International title defence last week with an aggressive display that removed any doubts about her fitness.
The 26-year-old ninth seed hammered down eight aces and 37 winners, feasting on Brengle’s powder-puff serve and converting five of eight break points over the brief contest. “I am very happy with that match,” said a smiling Konta, who will meet another American, Bernarda Pera, in the second round. “I knew it would be tough, she gets a lot of balls back and makes her opponents work for it.
“So really happy I was able to stick to the style of play I wanted.”