Kerber wants to fall in love with clay in bid to arrest slump


Angelique Kerber readily admits that clay is her least favourite surface, but the world number one is desperate to fall in love with the red dirt to arrest her alarming 2017 slump at the French Open.

It was a marquee 2016 for Kerber, who won the Australian and US Opens as well reaching the final of Wimbledon and the Olympic Games.

But since winning at Flushing Meadows the German has struggled to maintain those heights and she has played just one final this year.

Kerber has seen no upturn in form on the clay courts, suffering early exits in Stuttgart, Madrid and Rome, and her best return at Roland Garros was in 2012 when she reached the quarter-finals.

"Of course everybody knows it's not my favourite surface, but we have to play on clay," she told a news conference. 

"I try my best. I mean, also last year this [clay-court season] was not the best weeks for me. 

"It was my best year, but also last year when I played tournaments on clay, I was not playing so well.

"This year it's actually the same. It can be better. I try my best to get ready. I try my best to really be ready for the first round and make the preparation the best I can and then we will see how far I can come here.

"But first of all, I will just try to take it step by step and try to get in love a little bit with the clay."

Kerber stated that the only way to regain the form that saw her rise to the top of the WTA rankings is through competitive action.

"I need matches. I need matches where I can start to play and feel my tennis," she added. 

"Winning matches, I think this is also important. And just going out and trying to find my game, just fighting, moving good. 

"I mean, it's really difficult for me to move on clay, because this is not the best surface where I'm moving, but this is what I will try to do, what I will try to find."

First up for Kerber in Paris is a difficult tie against Ekaterina Makarova.

"I think it's for sure not easy," she said. "But which round is easy here?

"You have to be ready from the first round, from the first point here."