Beijing, (AFP): World number one Angelique Kerber banished all negative thoughts as she beat qualifier Katerina Siniakova in two sets in the opening round of the China Open on Monday.
The 20-year-old Czech played an impressive net game against the top seed but was unable to take control of the match, handing Kerber a 6-4, 6-4 win.
“She played really well, especially in the first set. I was trying to being patient and waiting for my shots and for my chances,” Kerber told reporters after the match.
The German, 28, won her second Grand Slam title of the year — and her career — at the US Open last month in the same week that also saw her rise to number one, dethroning long-reigning Serena Williams.
She started the year ranked 10th but reach her first ever Grand Slam final at the Australian Open in January — and scooped the crown.
Her strong run continued as she reached the final of Wimbledon and bagged an Olympic silver medal in Rio.
Kerber credits changing her on-court demeanour — which once earned her the nickname “Dun Curr-ber” based on the internet meme for “don’t care” — for her late career renaissance.
“I think it came from a lot of experience… really focusing and trying to (be) more positive on court than negative,” Kerber told reporters in Beijing.
“I think this is also one of the keys why I’m playing so good and so consistent, because it’s really important to have your mind on the court.”
Meanwhile, defending champion Garbine Muguruza booked her spot in the final 16, downing 21-year-old Yulia Putintseva in her second round match.
The Spaniard has her eyes on making her second consecutive WTA Final — the elite eight-player season finale — and needs to reach the final in Beijing to guarantee her qualification.
On the men’s side, David Ferrer and fellow Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut both prevailed in their tougher-than-expected first round meets.