DOHA, QATAR - Former World No.1 Angelique Kerber is rested and ready to resume her astounding start to the 2018 season. Kerber played a combined 15 official and unofficial matches in January (she went 4-0 in the ITF's Hopman Cup exhibition) and lost just one, to No.2 Simona Halep in the semifinals of the Australian Open.
Kerber had two match points against Halep in their grueling three-set affair, but fell just short, losing 6-3, 4-6, 9-7. The German can be typically hard on herself after losses, but Kerber said she left Australia with nothing but positives.
"It's never easy to be good after a loss," Kerber told reporters at All Access Hour ahead of the Qatar Total Open, where she is the No.8 seed. "It needs for sure a few days, but at the end I know that I give everything, and I know how close it is. It's just one, two points which decide matches.
"For me, it was more important to see that I'm back and that I'm playing good tennis, that I win matches again. And that was actually the goal for Australia for the first month of the year. I think that I reached it, the goal which I had for the Australian trip, and that was more important for me than the results and the points and all of this."
Thanks to her 10-1 record, which included her first title since the 2016 US Open at the Sydney International, Kerber roared back into the Top 10 after starting the season at No.21.
"For me it was really important when I'm looking back on the last few weeks that I'm able to play my game again, that I can fight," Kerber said. "And yeah, having my tennis back, my motivation and everything like I had like two years ago. So this was the biggest progress and the biggest thing for me to know and to feel that, yeah, I'm on court and I play again my tennis."
Kerber said she left her racquets in her bag for a week after flying home from Australia. Physically and mentally she was fried and she needed some time to reset. She began practicing against last week and arrived two days early in Doha to get acclimated to the outdoor conditions.
"I was feeling my body," Kerber said. "I was a little bit tired for sure, especially after the long flight. But mentally as well, I mean I had a lot of matches. I was really playing good tennis again, and I think it was more a combination for both to really have the good recover to start again and to focus on the next tournaments.
"I think that I needed a little bit time to recover from all the matches that I played in Australia, but now I'm feeling good again, and I'm ready to play the next matches."
Despite her January success, Kerber says she's not getting ahead of herself. Her goals and outlook on the season remain the same: to fight for every point and to play the brand of tennis that got her to No.1 in 2016.
"I'm just looking the same, the same way like I looked in Australia because it's at the beginning of the year," she said. "We have now the second trip. It's just fresh everything, and I know that everything starts from zero. It's a new tournament, new conditions. And that's why I'm trying to keep my goal like I started the year, and I think this goal will be also the goal for the rest of the season."
Kerber has an opening round bye and will play either Samantha Stosur or Irina-Camelia Begu in the second round.