Angelique kerber’s sudden explosion in performance puts even her confidante barbara rittner in a bit of a spot of bother.
Between two business trips, the german fed cup team boss had actually been counting on a few days off, but now she’ll be able to join kerber at the tennis world championships in istanbul at the end of october – and she’s thrilled for her number one. "That’s just great. Above all, the way angie secured the ticket is impressive," rittner said on sunday, admitting, "a few weeks ago, i didn’t expect it."
But because kerber is suddenly playing her best tennis at the end of what she sees as a complicated year, the player from kiel is among the best eight players of the season for the second time in a row. On sunday, the 25-year-old celebrated the third tournament win of her career in linz. In the final match, kerber beat serbian ana ivanovic 6:4, 7:6 (8:6).
After 1:36 hours, the player from schleswig-holstein converted her fourth match point, having previously fended off four set balls from the former world number one. She collected 40 000 dollars for the first triumph this year. "I knew it wouldn’t be easy. Ana is a rough player and i was honestly very happy when i could finally score the match ball. It was a load off my mind," said kerber, who can now "travel to istanbul without any pressure. "I have nothing to lose there."
To qualify for the end-of-year tournament on the bosphorus (22). Until 27. October) was enough for her to reach the semifinals at the WTA tournament in linz. "Of course i’m delighted that i’ve still managed to make it," said kerber. In austria, she had only made it into the field thanks to a wild card.
Last year, kerber played in the world cup for the first time, but was eliminated after three defeats in the preliminary round. Rittner has more confidence in the 25-year-old this time around. "I’m firmly convinced that she can play a good role in istanbul," said the team manager. "This time she knows the hype that is coming her way. That will help her. In addition, she can play freely."
But above all, kerber travels to turkey with fresh self-confidence. Final in tokyo, quarterfinal in beijing and now the strong performances in linz – kerber has rediscovered her love of tennis. In the meantime, she had lost the wild card during the course of the season. The role of the hunted, several injuries and a few unexpected defeats – at the latest after her second-round exit in wimbledon, the old self-doubts had returned for the player from schleswig-holstein. "I was a little worried," admits rittner.
But after a few days’ vacation in mallorca and some tough training sessions in offenbach, kerber had a taste for tennis again and found back to his old strength, step by step. "I feel better from game to game," said the world’s number ten in linz. Now she wants to show it also in the circle of the best in istanbul. Rittner is happy to give up a few days off for this.