Despite many question marks, Angelique Kerber starts confidently in Wimbledon. Without Alexander Zverev, German hopes rest primarily on the 2018 winner.
Angelique Kerber loves that Wimbledon feeling. With a smile, the 2018 winner boarded the private plane to England, and when she entered the legendary facility on London’s Church Road, memories of the past were immediately back.
“It’s always nice, it feels like home here now,” enthused the 34-year-old before her first appearance at the All England Lawn Tennis Club on Monday. “I’m pleased that things are starting relatively quickly.”
Far away from the hustle and bustle on the training ground, Kerber, in 14th place, watched by mother Beata, spent an hour hitting balls with the German women’s team boss Rainer Schüttler and presented himself in a good mood. After losing out in the quarter-finals at her home tournament in Bad Homburg, she traveled to London with a lot of imponderables. Are only three matches on grass enough to prepare for the classic? After a year of more downs than ups, how is your form? Will it even be her last Wimbledon?
Opening match against Kristina Mladenovic
Before the first round match against Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic, the three-time Grand Slam tournament winner presented herself confidently, despite the public question marks, and referred in particular to her mental strength. “I know what I can do and I still have the things that made me win Grand Slams,” emphasized the woman from Kiel.
Without the injured Alexander Zverev, German hopes rest primarily on Kerber. For men, Oscar Otte wants to continue his rapid rise from qualifier to player seeded in a Grand Slam tournament for the first time within a year. “It didn’t go too fast for me,” says the 28-year-old from Cologne before his German duel with Peter Gojowczyk on Monday, in which a total of nine German professionals are playing. “I’ve waited years to be in this situation, so it suits me.”
Most recently, Otte reached the semi-finals at the lawn tournaments in Stuttgart and Halle in Westphalia. After being outside the top 200 in the world rankings in August 2020, he has now climbed to 37th – the highest ranking of his career so far. For Otte, as the German number one, reaching the second week like at the US Open 2021 would be a success.
Swiatek favorite among the women
In the women’s category, behind the dominator Iga Swiatek, the field of title contenders is very broad. So it would not surprise former Davis Cup captain Patrik Kühnen if Kerber delivered a strong tournament. “She comes to Wimbledon, that’s her surface, she feels good there and knows how to play,” says the Sky expert from the German Press Agency. “She has an interesting role: Even if she is a multiple Grand Slam winner, she is not the focus of the favorites – maybe it’s good for her that she can play freely.”
The international view of the comeback of Serena Williams, who is aiming for her 24th title in a Grand Slam tournament after a year due to injury, is much stronger. At the weekend, the cameras kept clicking when the American trained with her Tunisian doubles partner Ons Jabeur on Court 15. “I take off all my hats to her,” says Kerber about her rival, who she defeated in the final when she triumphed four years ago. “She knows what she can do, she’s won so many titles here, grass is one of her favorite surfaces. I definitely have a lot of credit for her.”