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Kerber vs Hercog Australian Open live streaming, preview and tips - Former champion Kerber targets smooth passage into second round

Andrew Hendrie in WTA Tour 13 Jan 2019
  • Angelique Kerber vs Polona Hercog is live from Melbourne Park around 2.00pm local time on Monday (3.00am GMT)
  • Their head-to-head is level at 2-2, but they haven't played a completed match since 2011
Angelique Kerber (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Angelique Kerber begins her bid for a fourth Grand Slam title and second Australian Open crown when she meets Polona Hercog in the opening round at Melbourne Park on Monday afternoon.

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Former Australian Open champion and second seed Angelique Kerber faces big-serving Slovenian Polona Hercog in the opening round on Monday as she starts her quest for a second title in Melbourne.

After years of being a solid top 5-10 player, Kerber took her game to another level at the Australian Open in 2016, saving match point against Misaki Doi in the first round before beating the likes of Victoria Azarenka, Johanna Konta and Serena Williams to capture her maiden Grand Slam title. Kerber went on to win the U.S. Open and rise to World No. 1 that year, but she didn’t deal well with the pressure and expectation that came from those achievements, subsequently falling outside the top 20 in 2017 as she failed to win a title or make it past the fourth round of a major.

However, Kerber put together an extraordinary resurgence in 2018 - and it all started down under as she went undefeated in her four Hopman Cup singles matches, won her first title since the 2016 U.S. Open at the Apia International in Sydney and advanced to the semi-finals of the Australian Open, losing 9-7 in the third in a titanic tussle against Simona Halep.

Kerber registered a 46-19 record for the year, collecting a third Grand Slam title at Wimbledon (where she became just the second player after Venus Williams to beat Serena in multiple major finals), making the semi-finals of Eastbourne and Dubai and the quarter-finals of Doha, Indian Wells, Miami, Rome and Roland Garros, while she also qualified for the season-ending WTA Finals Singapore to finish the season as World No. 2.

Linking up with former ATP No. 5 Rainer Schuettler in the off-season, Kerber once again went undefeated in her four Hopman Cup singles matches in Perth to launch the year, but she was unable to defend her Sydney title, going down to eventual champion Petra Kvitova in the quarter-finals. Despite that defeat, Kerber is confident of making an impact once again in Melbourne - although she admits it will be a big challenge.

“I know that I’m playing well right now, that I’ve played good matches and that I have confidence,” she said. “But it’s still not easy to be here. The tournament starts from zero.
“I have good memories, yeah, I have a good feeling but you never know what’s going to happen. I mean, conditions are never so easy here, but I’m looking forward to it. The only expectation that I have is to give my best in every single match.”

Kerber’s first opponent at Melbourne Park for 2019 comes in the form of Polona Hercog.

Polona Hercog (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
The World No. 92 hasn’t had the best of times at the Australian Open over the years, winning just two matches in eight previous appearances, failing to beat anyone inside the top 100 during that time, with her best results two second round showings in 2010 and 2015. The Slovenian’s last visit to Melbourne Park in 2018 resulted in a straight sets defeat to Ekaterina Alexandrova.


Ranked as high as World No. 35 back in 2011 finishing runner-up to Venus Williams at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel in Acapulco the previous year and winning her first WTA title in Bastad that July - along with a reaching another final at the Palermo Open the following week - Hercog won her second her career title when she defended her Swedish Open title in 2012, but until last year, that was her last appearance in a WTA final.

Hercog’s progress up the rankings stagnated as she hovered around the 60-100 mark, finding it tough to break through to the next level, while her career took a turn for the worst after the 2016 U.S. Open as she forced onto the sidelines for over eight months as she battled knee, shoulder and wrist injuries, while she also had surgery on her appendix. Dropping to as low as 260 in the world, Hercog has wasted no time in quickly regaining her spot inside the top 100 in 2017, reaching the third round of Wimbledon and winning five ITF titles on clay, while she returned to her first WTA final since 2012 last year when she beat the likes of Aryna Sabalenka, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Maria Sakkari in Istanbul before falling to Pauline Parmentier. The 27-year-old also made the semi-finals of Bucharest and quarter-finals of Auckland to finish 2018 at No. 82 in the world.

Hercog plays her best tennis on clay, where her heavy forehand and big serve gets her on the front foot from the baseline. However, Kerber’s defensive game is well equipped to handle anything and everything Hercog throws at her. The Slovenian has beaten her twice, but both of those wins came before 2012 - the year Kerber started to rise. The German is far more consistent than Hercog and should be able to come away with a routine straight sets win on Monday.


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Kerber vs Hercog Australian Open live streaming, preview and tips - Former champion Kerber targets smooth passage into second round

Angelique Kerber begins her bid for a fourth Grand Slam title and second Australian Open crown when she meets Polona Hercog in the opening round at Melbourne Park on Monday afternoon.

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