Qatar Total Open: Angelique Kerber raring for redemption in Doha after Australian Open catastrophe

Angelique Kerber says she has put her Australian Open disappointment behind her and is ready to renew battle with the world’s top players here at this week’s Qatar Total Open.

Kerber’s Melbourne campaign ended in one of the heaviest defeats of her career when she won only two games against Danielle Collins, but the Wimbledon champion believes her fourth-round loss to the American was just a bad day at the office.

“I haven’t been thinking too much about this match,” Kerber said here on Sunday. “It can always happen, though of course it wasn’t the best timing. She played well.”

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Although Kerber has not been losing any sleep over her Melbourne experience the 31-year-old German is aware that her results since she beat Serena Williams at the All England Club last summer have been, at best, moderate. She has not reached the semi-finals of any of the eight tournaments she has played since Wimbledon.

While a number of her rivals have been playing in Fed Cup ties this weekend, Kerber had a break from national duty and took the opportunity to focus on improving her own fortunes.


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“I had a few days off after Australia and then I started to get ready again with a few fitness days,” Kerber said. “I came here a little bit earlier to get ready for this tournament and to get used to the courts, to the weather and the conditions.”

Europe might still be in the grip of winter, but here in the Middle East the temperature is rising and the sun is shining brightly for the start of the northern hemisphere’s outdoor season.

Although Naomi Osaka and Petra Kvitova, last month’s Australian Open finalists, are still recovering from their exertions Down Under, six of the world’s top 10 women will be competing here, though some have yet to arrive.

The top two seeds, Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova, would meet for the second time in less than a week if they reach next weekend’s final. On Sunday the Romanian and the Czech did battle in Ostrava in the third rubber of a World Group tie, with Halep winning 6-4, 5-7, 6-4.

Halep and Pliskova have the benefit of first-round byes here, but Ashleigh Barty will have barely stopped off the plane when she plays her first-round match against Petra Martic. On Sunday the Australian was facing the prospect of playing her second singles rubber and a doubles in her country’s Fed Cup tie against the United States in north Carolina.

Elina Svitolina and Caroline Wozniacki have both taken wild cards to play here. Svitolina, like Kerber, will be hoping to make a quick recovery after struggling in Melbourne. The world No 7 made the quarter-finals in Australia, where she lost to Osaka, but was suffering with a neck and shoulder problem.

“It’s slowly getting better,” Svitolina said. “I took some time off because I needed to recover. I had some tough matches in Australia.”

After a first-round bye Svitolina will take on the winner of Jelena Ostapenko’s meeting with Mihaela Buzarnescu. “From the first rounds you have very tough matches, very interesting matches,” Svitolina said. “This tournament here is always tough. Everyone wants to play. Everyone wants to play well.”

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