Petkovic continues “smart” in Paris: Kerber escapes first-round embarrassment by a hair’s breadth

Petkovic continues “smart” in Paris
Kerber escapes first-round embarrassment by a hair’s breadth

Andrea Petkovic is now training smart and is moving convincingly into the second round of the French Open. Angelique Kerber, who even has to fend off match balls, has significantly more trouble at the start in Paris. But then she managed to win in Roland Garros for the first time since 2018.

Angelique Kerber was at the end of her strength. The top German player had to fend off two match points and, to the loud cheering of the audience, managed to make it into the second round of the French Open for the first time after three bitter first-round defeats. Two days after winning her 14th tour title in Strasbourg, the former world number one beat Magdalena Frech from Poland 2: 6, 6: 3, 7: 5 in a real thriller despite a bad start. After 2:28 hours, Kerber converted her second match point against the 89th in the world rankings.

The “great self-confidence” she felt after her success at the weekend was initially blown away by the uncomfortable conditions and a delayed start due to rain. But in a hard-fought match, her much-vaunted resilience saved the three-time Grand Slam winner, who made it through the first round at Roland Garros for the first time since 2018 and now meets France’s Elsa Jacquemot.

Previously, Andrea Petkovic was more convincing. The all-time favorite from Darmstadt, who reached the semi-finals in the French capital in 2014, made a strong showing in her 6-4, 6-2 opening win against local hero Oceane Dodin. “As you get older, your energy sometimes goes down, sometimes up,” said the 34-year-old: “The art is to use your energy and train smarter.”

“Like a young hopping deer”

Apparently, Petkovic did well in the preparation and national coach Barbara Rittner got enthusiastic. “It was a masterpiece. I’ve rarely seen her play tennis so well in the first round of a Grand Slam,” said Rittner at Eurosport. Next opponent of the world number 65. is the former number one Viktoria Azarenka from Belarus.

After their match, Petkovic expected that Kerber also had a good chance of a successful start. The two friends went to the training ground together on Sunday morning and went about their duties. “She said she could hardly get out of bed, but then she ran around like a young hopping deer,” said Petkovic.

But at first, Kerber hardly managed anything against Frech. 13 unforced errors were clearly too many in the first set, her opponent sensed her chance and played boldly. But Kerber collected himself, played much more concentrated in the second round and got Frech going with his stops. In the decisive set she came back after a break behind. Both players now delivered a real tennis drama. With the better end for the German.

On Tuesday, Oscar Otte, Peter Gojowczyk and Nastasja Schunk, the remaining German pros, will intervene on the last day of the first round before the first second round games are scheduled for Wednesday. Then the German number one, Alexander Zverev, will in all likelihood enter the clay court again. The opponent has also been clear since this Monday: It is against the Argentine Sebastian Baez, whom Zverev last defeated in Rome.

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