Tennis: Garbine Muguruza welcomes Angelique Kerber's ascent

Angelique Kerber leaping with a balloon marking her rise to the top of tennis rankings. The German eased American Serena Williams' 186-week stranglehold on the position by winning the US Open earlier this month.
Angelique Kerber leaping with a balloon marking her rise to the top of tennis rankings. The German eased American Serena Williams' 186-week stranglehold on the position by winning the US Open earlier this month.PHOTO: REUTERS

WUHAN (China) • French Open winner Garbine Muguruza feels it is about time women's tennis had a "new face" at the top, after Angelique Kerber broke Serena Williams' 186-week dominance atop the rankings earlier this month.

"I'm happy that we have a new face as the world No. 1, not because I have a preference but just because I think it's good sometimes," the current world No. 3 said at the Wuhan Open yesterday.

She said the key for Germany's Kerber this year has been her consistency, which many players on the tour, including the Spaniard herself, struggle to match.

"I think in women's tennis, it's hard to find people that (are) always consistent... most of the girls are very aggressive. Some days they play good, some days they play bad," said Muguruza.

"But I think Kerber is an example this year that she was very consistent all the time. Every tournament, she's in the last rounds. That's why she became No. 1."

CONSISTENCY IS KEY

She was very consistent all the time. Every tournament, she's in the last rounds. That's why she became number one.

GARBINE MUGURUZA, Spanish tennis player, outlining the rise of Angelique Kerber to the top of the women's rankings.

World No. 5 Simona Halep said that seeing Williams slip from the No. 1 pedestal - which the American had occupied since February 2013 - had given other players a confidence boost. "It's much easier to believe in yourself when you see that Serena is not there any more, like, winning every tournament, being No. 1 in the world for years," said the 24-year-old.

Halep ended last year as world No. 2 and now has hope she can win her first Grand Slam title.

"I feel that everything, it's open now. I feel that everyone has a chance to win a big tournament, to reach No. 1," said the Romanian. "Everyone has a chance to reach the top if we believe. And we started to believe more, I think."

World No. 8 Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain said Williams' slip had left the "door open" for other players.

"A new change for tennis... because we know that we can have (the) door open to be there also. It's good," she said.

"Serena is good, I think she's on another level. But last year and also this year, Serena is not the same."

However, Kerber warned that Williams will come back strongly.

"She will try to win some more Grand Slams and write history for sure," said the German.

Williams has pulled out of the Wuhan Open and next week's China Open in Beijing, almost guaranteeing that Kerber will end the year as world No. 1.

But the 28-year-old German - the oldest player to debut at the top of the women's rankings - is not letting the pressure of her new position get to her.

"The ranking... it's just a number," she said. "I was always telling myself if that day will come... then that would happen, but (I was) not putting too much pressure on myself."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 26, 2016, with the headline 'Muguruza welcomes Kerber's ascent'. Print Edition | Subscribe