NEW YORK CITY, NY, USA - No.4 seed Angelique Kerber got her US Open campaign underway, fighting past an in-form Margarita Gasparyan in two sets in her opening round match.
On a balmy day at the Louis Armstrong Stadium, Kerber had to recover from a break deficit in both sets to score the 7-6(5), 6-3 victory in an hour and 45 minutes.
“It was really not easy with the conditions,” Kerber told press. “Especially also because at
the beginning of the match we had, like, sun, shadow. It was so hot with the sun. But I was just trying to focus on every single point. I was trying to not thinking too much about the conditions.
“I knew that [Gasparyan] was injured for a long time right now. Now she's coming back. I mean, if she's playing like this in the next weeks and months, for sure, she is really soon really high in the rankings.
“It was a really good match on the really high level from both of us, especially in the first set. We had really good points and long points, long rallies.”
Gasparyan started off on the right foot against the 2016 champion, breaking early to start with a 2-0 lead in the first set. But the former World No.1 responded emphatically, reeling off the next four games in a row to get the break back and build up a 4-2 lead.
But with Kerber closing in on the set at 5-4, the Russian player brought out some of her best tennis to save three set points in a marathon game to get them back on serve and into a tiebreaker.
She started out strong once again, edging ahead and winning an incredible 20-shot rally to lead 2-0 in the tiebreaker, but once again she couldn’t keep up her level to hold Kerber at bay. The German claimed the last five of six points and snatched away the opening set.
Things unfolded in similar fashion in the second, with Gasparyan building up an early lead at 1-0 but Kerber storming back straight afterward, leveling at 1-1. The German dodged a handful of break points as Gasparyan tried to inspire another surge, and reeled of the last three games of the set to take the match and seal her spot in the second round.
Up next, Kerber will take on Johanna Larsson in the second round. The Swede came back from a set down to knock out Alize Cornet, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.
“I know how to expect, I know how she's playing,” Kerber said. “For me, before that match I will be focusing on my game, trying to play good tennis, going out there, trying to win the match, of course. But I know also that it will be not the easy next round.”