LONDON, Great Britain - Last year's runner-up Angelique Kerber opened her campaign at the 2017 Wimbledon Championships with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over qualifier Irina Falconi to begin play on Centre Court on Tuesday.
The World No.1 scored her 50th career win on grass in the first round victory, but was made to work hard by the former World No.64 in the 87-minute victory.
"I think it was a good match, a good first match for me. I mean, I was enjoying to being back on the Centre Court," Kerber said. "I think, yeah, to playing first rounds in Grand Slams are always tough, especially with my first-round match that I lost in Paris. I was actually just thinking about point by point, trying to finding my rhythm during the whole match.
"Playing there again, it's, yeah, one of the best courts to play. It's traditional, so it was really great to being back."
The top seed sprinted out to a double break lead to begin the first set, but saw Falconi get one back and stay close for the duration of the nearly 50-minute opener.
Kerber was forced to save a break point in the eight game of the match - as she was stretched to deuce for the first time on serve a total of three times - but came through the test and locked up the set behind her own delivery a short time later.
"I think it's just the process. It's experience. You have to learn. You have to get through all the things. There are up and downs," Kerber said. "Right now, I am trying to making things not too complicated again, just trying to focusing more on my tennis, taking time for myself, being really here and focusing right now only on the next day and the next match."
The second set began in contrasting fashion, as both players held on to serve through the first four games before the World No.1 engineered her first break to lead 3-2. Again, however, Falconi showed some resistance, as she broke Kerber and held serve to secure her first lead of the match.
Nonetheless, Kerber steadied her ship - as she sandwiched a pair of love holds inbetween a fourth break of the American's serve to move safely through to the second round.
After hitting eight winners to 13 unforced errors in the opening set, Kerber cleaned up her tennis significantly in the second; the World No.1 struck seven winners to just two errors, and although the American cracked 11 against her, she also misfired with 14 unforced errors.
It total, Kerber was an even 15-15 in her winner to unforced error count, while Falconi stood at 22 winners and 24 unforced errors. As both players served at or near 60 percent of first serves in the match, the difference came in effectiveness on the second serve - and it was Kerber who won nearly 60 percent of the points on hers, while winning over that mark on Falconi's second serve.
In the second round, Kerber will face a tough test in former Wimbledon semifinalist Kirsten Flipkens, who defeated Misaki Doi in straight sets.
"I remember we played very good matches in the past," Kerber assessed of her Belgian opponent. "I think it will be another tough match. All the matches and all the players are tough to play. So it actually doesn't matter.
"I will try to go out there again, finding my rhythm, and enjoying to playing on grass. This is what I love."
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