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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 June 2018

WTA Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships: Angelique Kerber 'enjoying tennis' after racing into the second round

German world No 9 dropped just three games in her first round match and will face former champion Errani in the next round.

Angelique Kerber was in fine form to reach the WTA Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships second round on Tuesday. Karim Sahib / AFP
Angelique Kerber was in fine form to reach the WTA Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships second round on Tuesday. Karim Sahib / AFP

Former women’s world No 1 Angelique Kerber said she is “enjoying playing my tennis” after producing a dominant display against Barbara Strycova to reach the second round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Tuesday night.

After a slow start in which she was broken in the opening game, the No 6 seed proved too strong for her Czech opponent as she lost only two more games on her way to a 6-2, 6-1 win to set up a match with Sara Errani for a place in the quarter-finals on Wednesday.

“I played a solid match," Kerber told reporters. "It's always tough to play against her. You never know what's happen. She's always a fighter. But I'm happy to win the match in two sets.”

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The 30-year-old German’s return to form, after a frustrating 2017 that saw her fall from the top of the rankings down to No 21, has been one of the early stories of the year in women’s tennis.

This season Kerber has already won in Sydney, reached the Australian Open semi-finals and the quarter-finals in Doha last week. She has climbed back up the rankings to No 9.

Of what has led to her renaissance, the two-time major winner said: “I don't know. I think I just try to enjoy playing my tennis, trying to improving my tennis every single day. I changed my serve a little bit, so there's a few things that's changed.”

Kerber will go from playing a night match to playing in the day on Wednesday when she goes up against Errani, the 2016 champion.

They are scheduled to be the second match on Court One, but Kerber does not believe the different conditions will require an alternative strategy.

“I think the game plan is always the same," she said. "You just need a few games to get used to the day or night session. It's always a little bit different, but I think for my game, it will not change.”

Of what she expects from Errani, who has slipped to No 143 in the world after her own difficult 2017 where she was banned for two months for failing a doping test, Kerber added: “I try really to focus on my game. Of course, I know who I'm playing, but at the end she's had great matches here.

“I will just try to play another good match, play like I played the last weeks. This is more my focus, and not against who I'm playing.”

Errani, who came through two qualifying round matches to make the main draw, defeated fellow qualifier Lesia Tsurenko 6-4, 6-3 in her first round match.

Kerber’s best run in Dubai was last year where she reached the semi-finals before losing to eventual champion Elina Svitolina.

The Ukrainian starts her bid on Wednesday aiming to be the third player to win back-to-back WTA Dubai titles, after Justine Henin and Venus Williams, when she goes up against Qiang Wang in the third match on Centre Court in the afternoon session.