EASTBOURNE, Great Britain - Reigning Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber fought past Sam Stosur in two tough sets to reach the third round at the Nature Valley International in Eastbourne, 6-4, 6-4.
The No.4-seeded Kerber looked right at home at a tournament where she’s seen plenty of success: a two-time finalist here, Kerber reached the Eastbourne semifinals last year as well.
With her Wimbledon title defense kicking off next week, Kerber seems to be finding her best grass court game at the perfect time. The ankle injury and illness that derailed her clay swing look to be firmly behind her, and she comes fresh from a semifinal showing at the Mallorca Open.
Up against former US Open winner Stosur on Eastbourne’s Centre Court, Kerber fired 15 winners and broke Stosur four times en route to the straight sets victory.
“It's nice being back here, having another good match on grass before Wimbledon,” Kerber told press afterward. “That's why I'm here. I like to play here on grass, so I try to enjoy every match and every moment right now.”
Kerber needed a few games to find her rhythm, but wasted no time to score an early break for a 2-1 lead. Her lefty forehand found some tricky acute angles, keeping just out of reach of Stosur. The Aussie replied emphatically with a break of her own to get them back on level terms, but it wasn’t enough to curb her opponent’s momentum. Kerber waited patiently for her opportunities, finally converting to break at 5-4 and serving out the set.
Stosur got ahead 3-1 in the second set, eager to put the pressure on the former World No.1, but once again Kerber replied with a break of her own to put them back on serve. A third break sealed the match for Kerber, recording the victory in an hour and 23 minutes.
Into the third round here for the sixth time in six appearances, Kerber will now face Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson in her next match. Peterson took down Lesia Tsurenko in the Ukrainian’s second singles match of the day after a rain delay yesterday left first-round matches unfinished.
It’ll be Kerber and Peterson’s second career meeting, with the German triumphing in Nuremberg in 2015.