ADELAIDE, Australia – No.9 seed Angelique Kerber overcame Wang Qiang 6-1, 6-3 at the Adelaide International to secure her first victory of 2020.
Australia has typically been a happy hunting ground for the German, who has claimed Australian Open success in 2016 and then the Sydney title in 2018, but she was defeated in the opening round of Brisbane last week by Samantha Stosur.
There was never the prospect of a repeat in Adelaide, however, where her power was too much for the WTA World No.28 as she won the first meeting between the pair in one hour 23 minutes.
“The first set, I played well and I felt good. The second set was really tight,” she said. “It’s my first win this year, so I’m really happy about that. Hopefully I can play like today in the next round.”
Kerber proved a worthy replacement for the injured Petra Kvitova in the pool of seeded players as she dominated the match from the outset and reversed the trend of her recent poor form, which had seen her win just four matches in her previous nine tournaments.
The tone for the match was set immediately as the WTA World No.18 held serve to 15 then broke to love, and though Wang was able to respond, she found the depth and power of hitting that was coming from the other end of the court too much.
The turning point was a lengthy fourth game, in which the 31-year-old broke on the sixth attempt as 12 grueling minutes that accounted for nearly half the duration of the opening set.
Kerber swept to the opening set, winning 32 points to her opponent’s 16, and yet posted only six winners, testimony to the number of forced errors she was forcing from her opponent, who only made seven unforced mistakes herself.
Wang, a US Open quarterfinalist last year, had a wobble at the beginning of the second set, in which she did begin to misfire under little pressure, and after staving off a break point in the opening game, she was unable to do so as she fell 2-1 down.
It proved to be the decisive slip in a tighter second set. Kerber might not have been as unrelenting as she was in the first, but aside from successfully fighting off a break point in the eighth game was never seriously troubled and was the player exerting the pressure.
She closed out the match as Wang went long with a forehand, setting her up for a second-round encounter with WTA World No.24 Dayana Yastremska, another player she has never previously faced.
“We know each other very well. It will be another tough opponent, but I’m ready and I hope it’s going to be a good match,” she concluded.