By John Stonestreet
LONDON (Reuters) – German fourth seed Angelique Kerber aims to heed the lessons learned in winning her first grand slam in Melbourne in January as she cranks up her bid to add a second major title on the Wimbledon grass.
Superior court craft proved decisive for the Australian Open champion on Monday as she pressed the right buttons in motoring past Japanese pocket rocket Misaki Doi 6-3 6-1 in a full-blooded fourth-round match.
“I was trying to play my game and was feeling that my tennis is getting better and better,” she told reporters.
Having ground out a straight-sets win on Saturday against compatriot Carina Witthoeft in blustery conditions on the same Court Two, Kerber played with greater consistency and control on Monday.
That is part of the recipe she wants to carry over into her Wimbledon quarter-final from Australia, where she dashed world number one Serena Williams’ hopes of winning a record-equalling 22nd grand slam in the professional era.
“For me it is important that I know I can win these things (grand slams). The matches won’t get any easier and I know that I have to take control of them and dictate the play,” Kerber said.
“(The aim is) not to think too much about what might happen or what one can do or the negative aspects, and to only look one day ahead.”
Kerber, who reached the semi-finals at the All England Club in 2012, risked being overpowered early in Monday’s first set as her 5-foot-3 (1.59 metre) opponent bludgeoned forehand winners to both sides of the court.
But the German gradually found her range on her groundstrokes while 49th-ranked Doi’s radar began to malfunction and, in a match dotted with mesmerising rallies, made 25 unforced errors as well as 20 crunching winners.
Kerber broke twice in the first set, winning it on her third set point, and broke the Japanese again to lead 3-0 in the second.
Doi, who had not dropped a set in becoming the first Japanese woman to reach the last 16 of a grand slam since 2006, briefly rallied, saving two match points in the sixth game.
But Kerber served it out in the next game, blasting a forehand winner on the 15th stroke of the final rally.
The German will play Romanian fifth seed Simona Halep in the quarter-finals.
(Reporting by John Stonestreet, Editing by Ken Ferris)