US Open - Too Alone - Sports
She no longer has to play badly to lose: at the first-round-out in New York, Angelique Kerber fails again to a wiser-playing opponent and has to ask basic questions.
There are such games in tennis, the pure result tells only a small part of the story, and sometimes, when looking at the result, one asks: What in the world might it have just happened? Angelique Kerber and Kristina Mladenovic (France) had a thrilling and high-class match in the opening round of the US Open at the grandstand, a tactical treat. Mladenovic repeatedly sprinkled high topspin balls, slow slices and soulful stops, annoying Kerber, who likes to pick up the pace of the opponent and then counter precisely and powerfully.
The final score: 7: 5, 0: 6, 6: 4 for Mladenovic. What on earth has happened?
One explanation: Mladenovic had to be treated in the second set on the back, a nerve was trapped, so she gave this passage almost without resistance. You could also say that there would be such a game with such a crazy result in your life - if it did not happen that often at Kerber: One third of their games this year went the full distance, recently in Toronto Daria Kassatkina (Russia), the result: 6: 0, 2: 6, 4: 6.
Kerber has made the best possible results from her playful skills, she has won three Grand Slam tournaments and has marketed these successes well. The magazine Forbes led them to third place last year with $ 11.8 million (including $ 6.5 million from sponsors) on the list of top-earning female athletes. Not only in tennis mind you, but across all disciplines. Only Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka (Japan) have earned even more.
Kerber is one of the fittest players on the tour, she counters precise and powerful and is therefore considered one of the most unpleasant opponents, especially for top players. However, at Kerber, many, maybe even all, aspects of their playing style have to work and intermesh to make it work with the greatest possible success - otherwise the earliest possible failure threatens, as has recently happened in Toronto and Cincinnati.
She can bite back into games, get into the tournament, with every success the confidence in her own abilities and the belief in being able to celebrate the greatest possible success grows.
But not many things have worked recently, Kerber has separated after only eight months of coach Rainer Schüttler and traveled without coach to the tournaments in North America. There she won no game, there were three defeats in the first round. The prediction of six-time Grand Slam winner Boris Becker sounded fatalistic even before the tournament started. "I'm just worried about Angie, how long is she going to play tennis? It's no fun and no sense," he told TV channel Eurosport, and national coach Barbara Rittner said, "She's a human being Despite the successes, she keeps doubting, questioning, feeling uncomfortable and almost becoming a bit depressed or sad on her own.So, as I know Angie, she is not someone who should be alone for a long time, she is definitely someone who management needs. "
The result tells only a small part of the story, in which case the way it's made sends out the clearer message. The opponents now know how they have to act against Kerber, if they are playfully able to do so. "I had clear tactical requirements," said Mladenovic, who can not only beat the ball over the net like so many other players, but varies: "It was not easy to play that way, but it worked." Kerber is currently unable to find solutions to tactical issues, making changes during a game - or just convincing himself that she's strong enough, despite all the trouble in the early stages, that these tight games come in handy decide.
"I still enjoy tennis, so I do not want to think about what phase of my career I'm in," Kerber had said before the tournament started. After the game, she added, "I have made a conscious decision to go on this journey alone, taking my time and not making an emotional decision." She wants to drive home first and think in peace. About this result and also about the story that tells it.