PARIS, France - World No.5 and reigning Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber had high hopes for a strong run at the Career Grand Slam at Roland Garros when the clay season began. Now, she's just happy she made it to Paris.
"Two weeks ago I was not sure if I can make Paris," Kerber told reporters at Media Day at the French Open. "It was a long way [from] being here now."
The German's clay season was derailed due to a viral illness that knocked her out of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, and then came an ankle injury sustained during practice at the Mutua Madrid Open, which forced her to withdraw from Madrid and Rome.
"I'm grateful to be here right now, and the foot, it's good."
"The last few days, I can say that I'm without pain. But I had a lot of treatment, like, every day, two, three times.
"It was maybe not the best preparation that I wish. But right now for me, it's important to be here.
Kerber said the ankle injury turned out to be more serious than she initially thought. After withdrawing from Madrid, Kerber said she was optimistic she would be ready to play Rome but was sidelined there as well.
"Two weeks ago I was not even able to walk really good," Kerber said. "So I was really just on my couch [for about] one week, a little bit more, doing my treatments and everything. My physio was with me.
"That's why I'm really happy to be here and doing such a process over the two weeks right now because it was a little bit more serious than I thought in Madrid."
"And like I always say, focusing from round to round. I have to deal with the situation and focus for the first round here."
Kerber has been drawn in the last quarter of the draw along with No.2 Karolina Pliskova. She could face three hungry, talented teenagers in the first three rounds. Kerber faces 18-year-old Russian Anastasia Potapova and then could face 19-year-old Czech phenom Marketa Vondrousova. Waiting in the third round could be 19-year-old Ukrainian Dayana Yastremska, who is playing her third final of the year on Saturday in Strasbourg.
"[The title] is such a long way [away]," Kerber said with a rueful smile. "I mean, of course when I started the year, the expectation of playing in Paris, that was the goal, to really be playing here my best.
"Now, of course, the expectations are a little bit lower with everything that happened in the last few weeks. So really, I'm not thinking about this. I'm here to deal with the situation, to try to get better every day with the foot still. This is the focus."