Australian Open 2017

Australian Open: Disappointed Kerber vows to come back stronger after failing to retain her crown

Germany's Angelique Kerber reacting after a point against Coco Vandeweghe of the US during their women's singles fourth round match on day seven of the Australian Open tennis tournament, on Jan 22, 2017.
Germany's Angelique Kerber reacting after a point against Coco Vandeweghe of the US during their women's singles fourth round match on day seven of the Australian Open tennis tournament, on Jan 22, 2017.PHOTO: AFP
Coco Vandeweghe blasted six aces and 30 winners to overpower Angelique Kerber to reach the quarter-finals for the first time.
Coco Vandeweghe blasted six aces and 30 winners to overpower Angelique Kerber to reach the quarter-finals for the first time.PHOTO: EPA

No. 1s all out

MELBOURNE • World No. 1 Angelique Kerber was left licking her wounds last night and trying to work out what went wrong after crashing out early in her first Grand Slam title defence.

The German, who beat Serena Williams to win the Australian Open last year and followed it up with the US Open title, looked anything but a top seed as her game was dismantled by 35th-ranked Coco Vandeweghe.

Kerber never looked at her peak, having to battle through tough three-setters in her opening two rounds at Melbourne Park, following an indifferent build-up with early exits in Brisbane and Sydney this month.

Confident American Vandeweghe swept past her 6-2, 6-3 in 1hr 8min, leaving Kerber bitterly disappointed.

"It was a tough match, and of course I'm disappointed. But I was not feeling the ball at all tonight. I was not playing good from the first point. It was not my day," she said after the loss.

"I missed a lot and I make a lot of unforced errors. So this was not my game like I play normally."

  • Melbourne Park Snippets

  • FUN FACTS ABOUT COCO VANDEWEGHE

    • Sport runs in her family - Grandfather Ernie played basketball for the New York Knicks, uncle Kiki was a National Basketball Association All-Star with the Knicks and mother Tauna was an Olympic swimmer.

    • Her grandmother Colleen Kay Hutchins was the 1952 Miss America.

    • She is known to have one of the strongest serves in the women's game. In 2014, she hit 306 aces. In Melbourne this year, she is joint-second in the chart with 30, alongside compatriot Jennifer Brady. Only Czech Karolina Pliskova has more, with 33.

    • The 25-year-old world No. 35 is coached by Craig Kardon, who mentored former No. 1s Martina Navratilova, Lindsay Davenport and Ana Ivanovic.


    STAT OF THE DAY

    3.6km Distance run by Mischa Zverev yesterday when he beat Andy Murray, more than any other player in the round of 16.

Kerber, 29, was not only defending a Grand Slam for the first time, but was also in her first Major tournament as world No. 1, but she denied the pressure got to her.

"Of course, they were new experiences. This is good, they are new challenges," she said. "I can learn from all the other stuff which is new for me. It's just the beginning of the year. I can still improve my tennis, which is good.

"I will try my best to come back stronger."

In stark contrast, Vandeweghe, 25, blasted six aces and 30 winners to overpower Kerber to reach the quarter-finals for the first time.

"I guess I faked (having confidence) a lot because I was feeling like crap out there," said the American. "But, you know, fake it till you make it .... my game plan was to execute knowing that she was going to get a lot of balls back."

Vandeweghe, who celebrated her biggest career victory with a shrug of the shoulders, moves on to meet Spanish seventh seed Garbine Muguruza in the last eight. The Spaniard beat Romanian Sorana Cirstea 6-2, 6-3.

"Last year, I came here and didn't even win a match and here I am now," added Vandeweghe. "It's confidence having a full off-season with no injuries .... I set a goal for this tournament to make the quarter-finals."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

AUSTRALIAN OPEN
Day 8: Singtel TV Ch114/115 & StarHub Ch208/209, 8am & 4pm

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 23, 2017, with the headline 'Disappointed Kerber vows to come back stronger after failing to retain her crown'. Print Edition | Subscribe