Tennis

Beaten, again

World No. 1 Kerber wants to find 'positive energy' in Melbourne after shock loss to Russian teenager

Angelique Kerber's Australian Open preparations were put in a spin after the world No. 1 lost to Russian teenager Daria Kasatkina in straight sets at the Sydney International yesterday.

She lost 7-6 (7/5), 6-2 in a second-round match played in sweltering conditions.

Kerber's form is a real concern ahead of next week's opening Grand Slam of the year, having also lost to Ukraine's Elina Svitolina 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in last week's Brisbane International quarter-finals.

The 28-year-old German, who had a breakthrough 2016, winning two Grand Slams on her way to becoming world 
No. 1, struggled to find any rhythm and her usually strong forehand was astray.

Yesterday's loss was her sixth since she wrested the No. 1 ranking from Serena Williams last September.

"I made too many mistakes and I was not actually feeling the ball, because the balls are flying here a little bit different than in Brisbane," Kerber said.

"So it was not so easy, but I will try to forget the match as soon as I can.

"I will go to Melbourne in the next few days, and I will try to get ready there, trying to get the positive energy from last year."

I will go in the next few days to Melbourne... to get the positive energy from last year. Angelique Kerber who has lost six matches since becoming world No. 1 last September

While it was another match to forget for Kerber, it was one which 19-year-old Kasatkina seized to underline her huge potential.

Only last week, Kasatkina held a match-point before going down to French Open champion Garbine Muguruza in the second round at the Brisbane International.

Asked about her emotions after her biggest win yet, Kasatkina said: "Difficult to explain because I beat the No. 1 in the world and it doesn't happen every day. I think I got some confidence."

It was a day of upsets in Sydney where temperatures sizzled around 36 deg C, with defending champion Svetlana Kuznetsova and last year's finalist Dominika Cibulkova both knocked out in the second round.

World No. 9 Kuznetsova went out to Russian compatriot Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 7-5, 6-3, while Canada's Eugenie Bouchard continued her return to form with a 6-4, 6-3 win over the sixth-ranked Cibulkova.

Ninth-seeded Italian Roberta Vinci was another seed to fall, losing 6-2, 6-3 to veteran Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic. - AFP

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