WASHINGTON, February 3, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)
Imagine you’re Angelique Kerber, the former World No. 1 from Germany, and you’ve just landed in Melbourne, Australia, after a long flight. You’ve had great preparation and you have great expectations for 2021. Then, soon after, you learn that you have to spend your 14-day mandatory quarantine period in a hard lockdown with no time outside to practice because someone on your flight has tested positive for COVID-19 and you’re considered a risk because you’ve had close contact.
Surprisingly, Kerber, who recently celebrated her 33rd birthday after arriving in Melbourne, seemed at peace and took it all in stride.
“When they told me, you have to stay in the hard lockdown, at first I was a little bit shocked,” Kerber, the 2016 Australian Open women’s champion, recalled on Tuesday. “Like, okay, is that really real? I was not expecting this, for sure. But then, really like a minutes after that, I was like, okay, this is now the situation. I can also understand the other side. Let’s just do the best I can do because now I’m here, I cannot move out again.
“You know, I was trying to stay calm and find the peace out of the situation. I think also all the experience and also how, yeah, I. Am right now gives me actually the calm to really stay the 14 days in the room and did my exercises, doing few stuffs, things that I never do.
“I don’t know, every day I was FaceTime with all my friends. I was still trying to adjust to the time to Australia because I was living, I think the first eight days like in German time still.
“But I was trying really to stay calm. I think when you get older, you are really, like, having the peace inside of you.”
Kerber met with the media in advance of her opening match in the Grampians Trophy, a 28-draw WTA 500-series event added the week before the Australian Open to benefit those who were on strict quarantine. The first question she was asked was: “What was it like celebrating your birthday in quarantine?” Her response: “It was really special (smiling).
“No, it was a little bit strange, of course. But I think I will never forget this birthday. I mean, I got a cake, and I was trying to dressing up a little bit and celebrate, yeah, in my hotel room my birthday.”
A very happy Angelique Kerber enjoying a very happy practice 😊 pic.twitter.com/C4RJK5hd0N
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 31, 2021
When Kerber was asked it was fair to say this Australian Open represented the most psychologically difficult major that she’s ever had to prepare for, the World No. 25 said: “You know, I mean, of course it was not the plan, to stay in the hard lockdown. I know that I had a great preparation. I worked a lot at home with my team the last few weeks, actually two months.
“I understand, of course, that’s actually, yeah, the progress, like to stay in the hard lockdown because of all the things what happened.
“I was trying more to being calm, trying to take the best out of the situation. I mean, I think Australia is doing such a great job right now. When you go outside, they have no cases. They suffer for so many months here. I think on one side it was the best thing to do. …
“But, you know, I’m happy that I have a good team around me, that we have a lot of fun on court and try to also enjoy every single day because right now you cannot really plan too much ahead.”
— Angelique Kerber (@AngeliqueKerber) January 31, 2021
On Wednesday, the eighth-seeded Kerber played her first-round match in the Grampians Trophy against 59th-ranked Katerina Siniakova of Czech Republic and won 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 to advance to the second round against 30th-ranked Ons Jabeur of Tunisia. Kerber has an opportunity to play as many as five matches before the start of next week’s Australian Open if she progresses all the way to the final.
“Finding the rhythm, I think when I play a few matches, it will come,” said Kerber. “I have so many experience[s] already to know how it is. I think also what’s really important is the mental thing right now, especially for me that I’m not like, ‘Okay, I went through the two weeks of hard lockdown, but it’s okay.’ I’m fine with that, and now I’m looking ahead. I’m not looking back. I’m just trying to, okay, I’m okay, I practice good before, and try to take, yeah, the best out of that.”
ATP Cup: Team Italy first to advance to semifinals
In back of victories by Fabio Fognini and Matteo Berrettini, Team Italy advanced over Team France in John Cain Arena on Wednesday.
— ATP Tour (@atptour) February 3, 2021
Naomi Osaka: Victory sealed with an ace
World No. 3 Naomi Osaka of Japan reached the quarterfinals of the Gippsland Trophy in her first tournament of 2021 with a come-from-behind 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 win over Great Britain’s Katie Boulder on Margaret Court Arena Wednesday afternoon.
— wta (@WTA) February 3, 2021
Rafael Nadal: When you can’t play, you coach?
— ATPCup (@ATPCup) February 2, 2021
Nick Kyrgios: First match in nearly a year
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) February 2, 2021
Ashleigh Barty: True professional
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) February 2, 2021
Milos Raonic: Staying match fit
Don’t get angry Milos 😅
— We Are Tennis (@WeAreTennis) February 2, 2021
Barbora Strycova: Not letting pandemic keep her from a final bow
“I can see my pictures of my @AustralianOpen titles on the wall, how chubby I was! So much has happened in 19 years, but it helps me realize how good my life + career has been.”@BaraStrycova won’t let a pandemic keep her from taking a final bow.https://t.co/8UCic6cpeH
— David Kaneツ (@DKTNNS) February 2, 2021
Niels Vink: Rising wheelchair star
“Two years ago I never thought that I would be world No.6”
— ITF (@ITFTennis) February 2, 2021
What they’re writing
Federer tells SRF he has been following results quite closely, wanted to make comeback at a smaller event & that one of the motivations has been to get his knees & body back in top shape for the long term. Wants to ski with his kids & Mirka & have an active life
— Christopher Clarey (@christophclarey) February 2, 2021
What they’re podcasting
— Match Point Canada (@MatchPointCAN) February 1, 2021
What they’re sharing on social media
Rafael Nadal / The many faces of Rafa
— TENNIS (@Tennis) February 2, 2021
Nadia Podoroska / Uno más
— Nadia Podoroska (@nadiapodoroska) February 2, 2021
Garbiñe Muguruza / The lady in black
— Garbiñe Muguruza (@GarbiMuguruza) February 2, 2021