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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 18 November 2018

Angelique Kerber backed to complete career Grand Slam after Wimbledon triumph

Coach Wim Fissette confident German former world No 1 will win elusive French Open title as they work to improve her game on clay

Angelique Kerber has won the Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open singles titles. Neil Hall / EPA
Angelique Kerber has won the Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open singles titles. Neil Hall / EPA

Angelique Kerber's coach has backed the German to complete a career Grand Slam following her Wimbledon triumph over Serena Williams.

Kerber won her third major on Saturday with a dominant 6-3, 6-3 victory to add to the Australian Open and US Open titles she claimed in 2016. The German now only needs to win the French Open to join Williams and Maria Sharapova as holders of all four major titles.

Kerber gave a wry smile when asked about the prospect given her previous struggles on the Paris clay, but Belgian coach Wim Fissette believes her run to the Roland Garros quarter-finals last month and a three-set loss to eventual champion Simona Halep should provide plenty of hope for the future.

The pair began working together in pre-season following Kerber's split from Torben Beltz, who had coached her for more than a decade.

"This year was a huge success for her on the clay," Fissette said. "Before she had no plan how to play on clay. I remember we went to Rome a bit early to play some sets and she was trying to make winners on every second ball, and I was like, 'Angie, it's not going to work'.

"I was showing her some videos, 'If you want to have a chance, this is the way'. She was a bit negative because she didn't have good memories on clay. So I said, 'If you're going to try, let's go 100 per cent', and she took it and one day in Rome she made the switch in her mind, she wanted the challenge.

"Unfortunately in Paris she was physically not strong but she won the first set against the best clay player of the moment. If you can do that, why can't you maybe win it one day?"

Kerber lost the 2016 Wimbledon final to Williams but never gave the American any encouragement on Saturday, piling pressure on with her remarkable retrieval skills but also hitting 11 winners and facing just one break point.

"Angie did exactly what she had to do," Fissette said. "She served well, for her, she neutralised a lot of the first serves of Serena, and she tried to play offensive whenever she had a possibility.

"As we know, Angie brings back every ball so the combination of all of that was perfect for us. Angie started the tournament a bit slow and more to her older game with just running and fighting. After the second round she decided, 'OK, with this tennis I know I'm not going to win it'."

Kerber will be ranked fourth in the world on Monday having started the season down at 21st following a miserable 2017. The 30-year-old German player struggled to cope with the pressure of trying to follow up her remarkable 2016 season, which she finished as world No 1.

The relationship with Fissette has clearly gelled.

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2017 slump key to Wimbledon title, says Angelique Kerber

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"I didn't feel it was hard because when we started working she really had a very hard desire to go back to the top of women's tennis and she was also willing to work very hard for that," he said of restoring her confidence.

"I'm still sure we haven't seen the best Angie. Even physically, she can do a lot better. Her serve can still improve and her offensive game, the more she feels success with it, the more she will use that. And the more experience she has, she will take that into the big matches to stay mentally calm."

Meanwhile, the victory over Williams was a personal satisfaction for Fissette, who has now coached five different players who have beaten the great American.

Fissette, 38, who also coached Johanna Konta to the Wimbledon semi-finals last season, said: "I was 4-5 and now it's 5-5. It's something I'm very proud of against the best player in the world."