The fact that Angelique Kerber is ONE time former champ at SW19 should not be lost amongst the furor of Serena Williams’ return. Age may be catching up to the German former world number one but make no mistake she is one of the best grass court players around. This first round court one appointment got her opposite Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic on court one. Even though Kristina is not known for her singles play, I didn’t expect such a shaky start from the her. Watching her service game at you could see that her ball toss was all over the show, she seemed distracted almost, as if she wasn’t sure how to handle serving to a lefty. To her credit she varied her plays, coming to the net more at the back end of the first set. Her volleys are consistent with a former world number one doubles player. Check out 4-0 Kerber, 15-40. Her deft volley was the right idea coming undone only on hitting it too hard where a drop shot like shot would do the trick. Anyway, it wasn’t as if Angie was great as much as Kristina was really bad in that first set. In a way a bagel loss of that set was just what Mladenovic needed to(set took less than half an hour) to re-strategize her whole approach.
Re-strategize she did. A much more competitive set , the second set was. It didn’t look that way though when Kerber went a break up early. Watch 1-0 second set first point. I feared the worst(double bagel loss) for Kristina after this game. Again the approach to the net wasn’t bad from Kristina, but not for the first time in the match her shot making wasn’t good enough. Not enough depth on the backhand allowing Kerber’s stronger forehand to shine. Kristina, with the help of her superb forehand, got back into the set from 2-0 down to lead 3-2 and suddenly we had a match on our hands. The point of the match was at 3-2 Kristina Kerber up 40-15. Not only was the forehand shot played by the Frenchwoman worthy of a winner, it took everyone but Kerber by surprise. The German control on her forehand too was exemplary. An anticlimax to the set for Kristina though at 5-5, hard work undone with yet another unforced error at break point. A slightly uncomfortable second set for Kerber in an otherwise straight forward victory. Magda Linnete of Poland awaits in Round 2.