What could be the perfect birthday gift for Angelique Kerber other than notching up the game from German compatriot Carina Witthöft in the second round of the Australian Open in Melbourne on Wednesday.
The world No1 claimed a 6-2, 6-7 (3-7), 6-2 victory. Kerber, also the defending champion turned 29 on Wednesday when she made it to the third round. Though she had shaky start to the tournament, her perseverance paid off.
She will next face off either Czech Kristyna Pliskova, sister of fifth seed Karolina Pliskova, or Romanian 27th seed Irina-Camelia Begu.
It was a special day for Kerber. When the match got over, the crowd in Rod Laver Arena sang “Happy Birthday” to make the occasion memorable for the champion.
“I’m always playing on my birthday, and I have always [had my] birthday here in Australia,” Kerber said in her on-court interview after the match, as reported by Tennis.com. “I’m really enjoying it. It’s like at home here. I’m 29, so I’m getting older, but I think I will have a great day today.”
To celebrate her birthday on a winning note, let’s jog you through some facts about the top seed.
- This is the first time in her career that Kerber is defending a grand slam title.
“To have this pressure is a privilege. It’s completely new for me, but I’m doing well. I’m just trying to enjoy it,” she said, before the Rod Laver Arena crowd sang “Happy Birthday”
- Kerber achieved the position of the World No.1 for the first time in September after winning her second Grand Slam, the US Open, and took over Serena Williams’s top spot. If she remains No.1 at the end of this, she will become the 12th woman to do so since rankings were introduced in 1975.
- Kerber, at 28, clinched the World No.1 ranking and is the 22nd woman to achieve so. She is also the oldest to debut in that spot.
- Steffi Graf (German former tennis player who was ranked World No. 1 during her career) is one of Kerber’s idols and following her path in the same direction, she became the first German to make it to World No.1 since Graf. She is also the first German woman in the final at Melbourne Park since Anke Huber in 1996.
- Kerber had her breakthrough run at the US Open in 2011, when by being the world No. 91 she reached the semifinals. She hasn’t looked back since. Kerber made it to the 2012 Wimbledon semifinals, and won six career titles, including four, last year. She’s the last member of the WTA top-10 to make a Grand Slam championship match.
- One of her career’s huge moments came when Kerber defeated Serena Williams in the Cincinnati quarterfinal in 2012.
- Only three women in history have ever made three Grand Slam finals in the same year they made their first. Kerber joins in Martina Hingis (1997), Steffi Graf (1987) and Evonne Goolagong (1971).
We congratulate Kerber for an outstanding victory today and wish her a very Happy Birthday.
Feature image credit: oddsmarket.com
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