Two-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber will return to the French Open, looking to set the record straight. The German suffered a disappointing first-round exit at the hands of Kiki Bertens on her last outing in Paris last year. However, a little consolation for Kerber is that Bertens went on to reach the semifinals at Roland Garros. Furthermore, 2017 hasn't been a stellar year for the German but she will be looking to turn it around in the French capital.
Notable results to date
The world number one had a disappointing start to the season Down Under. Kerber lost to Elina Svitolina in the quarterfinals in Brisbane, and she suffered a second-round loss to Daria Kasatkina in Sydney. The German entered the Australian Open as the top seed and defending a title at a Slam for the first time. She needed three sets to defeat Lesia Tsurenko and Carina Witthoeft but thrashed Kristyna Pliskova in three sets. Kerber's title defense came to a crashing end to Coco Vandeweghe in the fourth round. The American overpowered Kerber with a loss of just five games.
The reigning US Open champion suffered another loss to Kasatkina in Doha but her form slightly improved in her next three events. Svitolina once again got the better of Kerber in the semifinals in Dubai. However, the 29-year-old's two results at the Premier Mandatory events were good. She defeated Andrea Petkovic and Pauline Parmentier in the first two rounds in Indian Wells but lost to eventual champion Elena Vesnina in the fourth round. Kerber then travelled to Miami, dispatching Ying-Ying Duan, Shelby Rogers and Risa Ozaki in straight sets. However, she was unable to defeat fellow multiple Grand Slam winner Venus Williams in the quarterfinals. Kerber advanced to her first final of 2017 in Monterrey. She recorded good victories over 2010 French Open winner Francesca Schiavone, Mandy Minella, Heather Watson and Carla Suarez Navarro. However, just like 2013, she lost to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the final.
Clay Court results leading up to Roland Garros
Kerber entered the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart as the two-time defending champion. Unfortunately, she was unable to three-peat as she suffered a straight sets loss to eventual finalist Kristina Mladenovic. Her clay court results continued to be poor at the third Premier Mandatory event of the year at the Mutua Madrid Open. She also suffered an early exit at the second Premier 5 event of the year at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia. Kerber defeated Timea Babos and Katerina Siniakova in her first two matches at the Caja Magica but she was forced to retire in the second set at a set and 0-5 down against Eugenie Bouchard. The Canadian was looking back to her best and was too hot for Kerber to handle. The two-time Grand Slam champion was thrashed by Anett Kontaveit in the second round at the Foro Italico.
Best French Open result
Kerber's past results at the second Grand Slam tournament of the year have indicated that she doesn't perform well on clay. The furthest the German has been at Roland Garros was a quarterfinal finish in 2012 as the 10th seed.
The world number one defeated Zhang Shuai and Olga Govortsova in straight sets in her opening two round matches. However, she had to recover from a set down to defeat her predecessor, 2015 US Open champion Flavia Pennetta, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the third round. Kerber dispatched Croatia's Petra Martic, 6-3, 7-5 to reach her solitary quarterfinal at the French Open. Kerber lost to Sara Errani, 6-3, 7-6 (2), and the Italian went on to reach her first Grand Slam final losing to Maria Sharapova.
How Kerber's game translates to this surface
The 29-year-old is a world class returner, and she is an exceptional defender, which is vital for clay courts. However, Kerber's second serve is attackable which is another reason why she has been struggling in 2017. She failed to improve on that weak aspect of her game in the off-season. The German possesses a solid forehand and backhand, and with the tightest angle, she finds a winner down the line. Kerber acknowledges that she isn't a clay court specialist but with her fighting spirit, she won't give up. It is an important period of the season coming up for the world number one. She has a lot of points to gain at Wimbledon, and the hard court season, and to compensate with that, a deep run in Paris would be good, after losing in the first round.