New coach. New year. New goals. Angelique Kerber is already plotting her assault on the 2019 season, and began it in style on Sunday.
The reigning Wimbledon champion kicked off her campaign with a hard-fought three-set win over fellow major champion Garbine Muguruza.
The pair often play out enthralling matches, and this was no different, with Kerber recovering from the loss of the second set to snap a five-match losing streak to the Spaniard.
Kerber has clearly carried momentum into the new year following a resurgent 2018.
But interestingly, she said she has already banished thoughts of what transpired during the past 12 months and is already focusing ahead to 2019.
“For me it was a good decision. It is a new year. Like last year, when I was here, I was not thinking about 2017,” she explained after her 6-2 3-6 6-3 win over Muguruza.
“Now I am not thinking about 2018. It is a new year and for me it is important to play good tennis, trying to improve my tennis as well. We really had a good off-season; a tough one.
“He (new coach Rainer Schuettler) knows me as a player. He was a player as well, so he knows what it is like to be on court and feeling the pressure, feeling all of the things going on in your mind.
“It is the beginning.”
Kerber parted ways with former coach Wim Fissette ahead of the WTA Finals in October, less than a year after linking up with the Belgian.
With Fissette she enjoyed an outstanding 2018; she beat Serena Williams in the final of Wimbledon to claim her third grand slam title and finished the season ranked No.2 in the world, 20 places higher than where she started the year.
She again chose to start her Australian summer in Perth, and is teaming with Alexander Zverev at the Hopman Cup.
And why wouldn’t she?
The 30-year-old won her first 14 matches of the 2018 summer; four at the Hopman Cup, five at the Sydney International to scoop the title and then five at the Australian Open.
She lost the semifinal in Melbourne to world No.1 Simona Halep 9-7 in an epic three-setter, which won the Tennismash award for Match of the Year.
“I am not a person who makes a decision overnight,” Kerber said of the coaching change. “I was thinking about this a long time already.”
Kerber next takes on Alize Cornet in singles when Germany meets France on Wednesday; she then faces Ash Barty on Friday evening in her final singles match of the group stage.
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