(Reuters) – German Angelique Kerber did not get past the opening round in her last three Grand Slam appearances before Wimbledon but the disappointing results never made the former world number one doubt herself.
The 2018 Wimbledon champion, who also won the Australian Open and the U.S. Open in 2016, has slipped to 28th in the rankings.
And before her title run at Bad Homburg in her home country in the lead-up to the grasscourt Grand Slam, the last time the 33-year-old won more than two matches in a row was at last year’s U.S. Open where she made the fourth round.
But back on grass the plucky left-hander has now strung together a winning run of 10 matches and will face Australian world number one Ash Barty on Thursday in her first major semi-final since her title-winning run at Wimbledon three years ago.
“The last few months it was really tough,” 25th seed Kerber told reporters after beating Czech Karolina Muchova 6-2 6-3 on a fan-filled Court One. “I was not able to have the result which I was actually looking for.
“I never stopped believing in myself, in my team. For me, I love to play tennis and I love this sport, to go out there and play again in front of the fans. I think this also gives me that push to play my best tennis right now.
“I have always had some ups and downs in my career. I always believed that I could come back because I know what I can (do). I never stopped believing in myself, (in) how I can play.”
Kerber feels it is something at the All England Club that brings out the best in her.
Having already lifted the Venus Rosewater Dish once and finishing runner-up in 2016 helps.
“It’s a good feeling to already have the trophy at home,” a smiling Kerber said, hoping her experience will count against top seed Barty who has never made it this far at Wimbledon.
“I think it’s more about this tournament for me because when I was a kid I really looked forward to playing this tournament well and playing my best tennis here.
“Now I’m back. I’m coming (here) after a really tough time. I was not playing good the last few months. Now winning, like, last week a tournament at home, now playing well here again, that means a lot to me.
“For me it’s more the experience that I had a few years ago. I twice played the finals here.”
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; Editing by Ken Ferris)