June 30, 2019 / 2:55 PM / 3 months ago

Focused Kerber not fazed by tough Wimbledon draw

(Reuters) - Defending champion Angelique Kerber said she was in good spirits ahead of her Wimbledon title defence and was not thinking too far ahead despite being placed in arguably the tougher half of the draw.

Tennis - WTA Premier - Eastbourne International - Devonshire Park, Eastbourne, Britain - June 29, 2019 Germany's Angelique Kerber in action during the final against Czech Republic's Karolina Pliskova Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Couldridge

The German fifth seed kicks off her campaign against compatriot Tatjana Maria on Tuesday, but could potentially face three former champions in Serena Williams, Garbine Muguruza and Maria Sharapova if she goes deep into the tournament.

With world number one Ash Barty also in the same half of the draw, three-times Grand Slam champion Kerber might have her work cut out if she is to defend a major title for the first time, but said she would take things one match at a time.

“It’s nothing new for me, to be honest,” the 31-year-old told reporters at the All England Club on Sunday. “It’s right now the first round that’s important. What’s in the second, third, fourth, whatever, it doesn’t matter right now.

“For me it’s the most important thing to play the first round, then look ahead day by day. I mean, anything can happen, especially in the Grand Slams. We will see.

“Of course there are always tough opponents. You have to beat everyone if you would like to win a Grand Slam.”

Kerber, who was eliminated in the French Open first round last month, said she had managed to rebuild her confidence with a strong showing during the short grasscourt season.

The German reached the semi-finals of the Mallorca grasscourt warm-up and went one better at Eastbourne last week, where she reached the final but was beaten in straight sets by Karolina Pliskova.

“I’m feeling good,” Kerber added. “That was the goal, to have a lot of matches, especially after Paris, coming to the grasscourt season to feel the grass again.

“I played good matches against good opponents. I got my rhythm back, the match rhythm. That’s important for me to have, the confidence when I played the matches.

“It’s a completely new year. Everything starts from zero. It is great to being back but for me right now it’s, again, to focus on my first round, on the tournament.”

(This story corrects to ‘three-times Grand Slam champion’ in third paragraph)

Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; editing by Clare Fallon

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