Kerber relieved to be leaving clay behind


Angelique Kerber is keen to forget the clay court season after crashing out of the French Open in the first round.

The world number one became the first top-seeded woman in history to fall at the first hurdle at Roland Garros when Ekaterina Makarova claimed a 6-2 6-2 victory, and the disappointment added to a torrid year for Kerber.

She was beaten 6-4 6-0 by 21-year-old qualifier Anna Kontaveit of Estonia at her last tournament appearance in Rome, has struggled on clay in the past, making a first round exit in Paris last year.

The 29-year-old, who was a two-time grand slam champion in 2016, winning the Australian and US Open titles, said after the defeat to Makarova: "On clay I'm really not feeling so good, especially on my movement, because I cannot slide so good.

"Normally I can move very well, but on clay it's always a little bit different and difficult for me.

"Of course I'm disappointed that the clay court season was not so good. Maybe it's good that it's over for me."

Kerber conceded the increased expectation placed on her since her 2016 successes weighed heavy, but is hoping to return to form on grass.

"I think I will go back home," she said. "I will maybe take a few days' rest. I really don't know what I will do now, but for sure I will think about what is the best preparation for grass.

"I think I need few more days to really forget the clay court season because it was at not the best weeks in my career."

She added: "The pressure is always there. This year, I mean, the expectations are much bigger, especially in the big tournaments and the Grand Slams.

"And the expectations are also from me really big, of course, because I know what I can do, what I did last year."