US Open: Angelique Kerber cruises into the second round after opponent retires

Angelique Kerber looked like a woman on a mission in her opening round match with Polona Hercog at the US Open, and the world number two has a chance of leaving New York as the world number one.

Unfortunately, Hercog was feeling under the weather, and certainly, the German was the last person she needed to face; the Slovenian subsequently retired from the match in the sweltering heat on the Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Kerber races through the opening set

Hercog elected to receive, and the German opened the match with an easy service game to love with unforced errors coming from the racquet of the Slovenian.

Immediately, she was struggling to deal with the German's return in the following game, however, the second game of the match produced the longest rally of the match, and Kerber came out on top and broke to lead 2-0, displaying tremendous athleticism.

The reigning Australian Open champion consolidated the break by showcasing her skills in the third game with two forehand winners, and Hercog continued to commit unforced error by spraying the ball wide.

Once again, Hercog was put under pressure on her serve due to the second-seeded German producing her trademark forehand down the line, and following another extended rally, a tame shot in the net from the Slovenian's racquet, and she found herself 0-30 down.

Kerber waves to the crowd following her short day at the office (Photo by Michael Reaves / Getty Images)
Kerber waves to the crowd following her short day at the office (Photo by Michael Reaves / Getty Images)

However, she almost got herself out of trouble as she had Kerber on the backfoot to get the game levelled at 30-30, but the hard work was undone as they entertained the court with the best rally of the match.

Hercog produced a drop shot, Kerber retrieved it, and Hercog got the ball back into play, but the German scrambled unbelievably around the court to get the ball and forced the Slovenian to put the ball into the net.

Unfortunately for Hercog, the Australian Open champion created two more break point opportunities and converted her third one with a forehand winner to go a double break up and lead 4-0.

In the fifth game of the opening set it was another love game for Kerber but this time, she was made to work for the game, especially when she went 15-0 up by virtue of a drop shot, which Hercog retrieved brilliantly but it was good hussle by Kerber to put the ball away. The German eventually clinched the game with a crosscourt backhand winner.

Following Kerber's 5-0 lead in the opening set, the world number 20 called on the trainer for a medical timeout in the scorching conditions, as she was feeling under the weather with the medical team checking out her blood pressure, and was pondering to withdraw from the match but opted to continue.

However, it was an error-strewn game from Hercog and Kerber dished out a bagel with another forehand winner to take the opening set in just 27 minutes.

Hercog retires

Kerber dominated the first set with a 100% winning record on both first and second serves, however, in the first game of the second set, she finally dropped the first two points on her serve with two uncharacteristic backhand unforced errors into the net, nonetheless, the German recovered from 0-30 down to hold serve with the help of Hercog, who committed more unforced errors.

Following this game, and with seven games in a row in favour of the German, Hercog decided that she couldn't continue and retired from the match, with Kerber progressing into the second round in just 32 minutes.

Next for Kerber

The German will have been pleased to get through her match with little problems although it wasn't under the circumstances she would have liked, she will have a stern test in the second round against Mirjana Lucic-Baroni.