WTA Sydney: Angelique Kerber battles back to defeat Venus Williams

Former world number one Angelique Kerber continued her impressive early season form on Tuesday, with the German coming from a set down to defeat second seed Venus Williams in the second round at the Sydney International.

In what was Williams’ first appearance of the new season, it was her who claimed the opening set from 3-5 down, though Kerber was able to bounce back from that disappointment, dropping just four games in the rest of the match as she sealed a 5-7, 6-3, 6-1 win over the world number five. She faces Dominika Cibulkova in the next round.

Kerber in action as she beat Williams for the fifth time (Getty/Matt King)
Kerber in action as she beat Williams for the fifth time (Getty/Matt King)

Kerber’s victory means she has yet to taste defeat in the 2018 season, having saved two match points in her first round match against Lucie Safarova and having won all four of her singles rubbers at the Hopman Cup last week. Williams, meanwhile, will head into the Australian Open (where she was the runner-up last year) with very little match practice ahead of the first Grand Slam of the year.

Resilient Kerber pulls through against Williams

The two have had a tight rivalry in the past, with the German having a 4-3 edge in their head to head, and the two once again contested a fairly tight match, though Kerber was eventually able to break down Williams and reach the last eight.

It was Kerber, ranked 22nd after a disappointing 2017 season, who started strongly, breaking early on for a 3-2 lead over the second seed. After some early errors, however, Williams began to settle into the match, remaining solid on her own serve, and was able to break as Kerber served for the first set. With momentum on her side, the American made a decisive move, rolling off the next two games to seal a tight opening set.

Williams fell to Kerber in her opening match of the 2018 season (Getty/Matt King)
Williams fell to Kerber in her opening match of the 2018 season (Getty/Matt King)

Though she had rallied to take the last four games of the first set, Williams was unable to press her momentum early on in the second set, and once again it was Kerber who secured the opening break of the set. Williams was able to break back immediately, though immediately handed back Kerber the advantage, and the German started to take control of the encounter, eventually break for the third time in a row to take the match to a decider.

Kerber survived a tough start to the decider, holding from 0-40 down, and then immediately pulled ahead, easing to a 3-0 lead. Williams had looked so solid throughout the encounter, though was now starting to look slightly labored on court, and she could do very little as her opponent eventually took a commanding 5-0 lead. The American saved multiple match points when serving to stay in the match, though an impressive Kerber was able to seal another encouraging victory the very next game.