MELBOURNE, Australia - Former champion Angelique Kerber was on song in her return to Rod Laver Arena on Monday, as the No.2 seed opened her Australian Open campaign with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Slovenia's Polona Hercog.
Never losing serve in one hour and 12 minutes, Kerber saved all four break point opportunities she faced and scored her fifth win over the Slovenian No.3 in seven meetings dating back over a decade.
Despite only hitting eight winners in the match, Kerber's deft counterpunching extended a multitude of rallies in the match, with Hercog unable to overcome her total of 41 unforced errors.
"The first rounds are always tricky. I think that I was trying to finding my rhythm, especially in the first few games. I think I was returning good. That was a good point from this match," Kerber said.
"In the second set, I was feeling a little bit better and better, hitting the balls also with a little bit much more power than in the first set.
"Overall, it was a good match for me."
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 14, 2019
After the World No.92 held to begin the match, Kerber settled in quickly and ran off five straight games to take firm command of the opening round ecounter.
Hercog's window to get back in the first set came and went in the fourth game, as Kerber snuffed out the lone break point opportunity the Slovenian created for herself, and the German held with ease to put herself one set ahead.
The second set unfolded in similar fashion, with an early break stamping Kerber's authority on the match, and she added late insurance with a stretch of eight points out of 10 to lead 4-1.
The German needed to dig deep to keep her perfect serving record in tact in the ensuing game, as she was forced to save three break points before eventually hanging on to move one game away from victory, and end Hercog's hope of working her way into the match.
Brazilian qualifier Beatriz Haddad Maia awaits the German in the second round, after she needed nearly two-and-a-half hours to oust American Bernarda Pera, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.
"I never played against her, so it will be the first match. It's like the first rounds here. I will try my best. I will see what I have to expect against her," Kerbar said.
"I will look more on my tennis and trying to playing another good match here."