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29 February 2024

Kerber keen for revival not top spot


Angelique Kerber insisted Sunday that reviving her flagging fortunes on tour is her main priority rather than reclaiming the world number one ranking from Serena Williams at the Dubai Tennis Championships.

The German two-time Grand Slam champion took over top spot last September when she won the US Open.

However, she promptly lost the honour in Melbourne last month as Williams won the Australian Open, reclaiming her long-held number one ranking in the process.

Now Kerber, who went out in the Melbourne fourth round to American Coco Vandeweghe, is determined to prove she can still pose a threat on a regular basis.

"I was not feeling good last week in Doha," the German said on Sunday as she prepared to start in Dubai in the second round as top seed.

"My body was not at 100 per cent — but I'm practising well."

Kerber lost in her opening match in rain-hit Qatar, going down in three sets to promising Russian teenager Daria Kasatkina.

"I must bring that good feeling from the practise courts to the matches. It is just one or two matches that can change it because I am really feeling good."

Kerber will be playing in the Dubai main draw for a fifth time but has never been past the third round.

Should her game click again, she would have the chance to return to the top ranking by winning the title, with Williams skipping the Middle East legs of the WTA Tour.

But with a 4-4 record so far this season, it would likely take something special this week at the Aviation Club.

Kerber is working to keep the ranking permutations out of her mind.

"It is more important to play my tennis and to find my rhythm again. That is what counts for me. I will give my best to win again a lot of matches and then we will see if I can get back to number one," she added.

Kerber heads a Dubai field which includes US Open finalist and number three Czech Karolina Pliskova, who won the Qatar title on Saturday, WTA Tour Finals winner Dominika Cibulkova, and French Open champion Garbine Muguruza.

However, the event has lost double Grand Slam winner Svetlana Kuznetsova, Canada's Eugenie Bouchard and holder Sara Errani to injury.

In first round results on Sunday, Australian 12th seed Samantha Stosur beat Zhang Kailin 6-3, 6-3, Tunisian qualifier Ons Jabeur surprised 14th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia 7-6 (8/6), 2-6, 6-4 while French 15th seed Caroline Garcia became the first into the second round, defeating Swede Johanna Larsson 6-3, 6-3.