Angelique Kerber insists she can cope with the pressure of being US Open champion and world No.1.
Kerber outlasted Karolina Pliskova in the final at Flushing Meadows on Saturday to clinch her second grand slam title of the year, after winning her first at the Australian Open in January.
The 28-year-old also climbs above Serena Williams on Monday to become world No.1, with the American’s 186-week reign at the top ended by her defeat to Pliskova in the semi-finals.
Caroline Wozniacki, who lost to Kerber in the last four, said her opponent’s success would put “a target on her back”, but the German is confident she can handle the pressure.
“I’m ready to have this pressure on my shoulders,” Kerber said.
“I think I get used to all of this, especially after my first grand slam in Australia. I had so much pressure after the title.
“To be number one of course now everybody will try to beat me and they have nothing to lose. I will try to take this challenge because it will be a little bit of a new situation for me.
“But in the end, I was always practising and working hard to be number one, now I can also take the next step and try to stay there as long as I can.”
If Williams can overcome a knee injury, the 22-time major champion could soon reclaim top spot given she has very few ranking points to defend after hardly featuring at the end of last year.
Nonetheless, Kerber has emerged as a legitimate rival to the 34-year-old’s dominance, having become the first woman, apart from Williams, to win two grand slams in a calendar year since Justine Henin in 2007.
Williams was beaten by Kerber in the Australian Open final, lost to Garbine Muguruza in the French Open final, and beat Kerber to win Wimbledon, before succumbing to Pliskova in New York.
“The younger generation is definitely catching up,” 18-time grand slam champion Martina Navratilova said.
“To me, the biggest surprise was Serena lost the two finals at slams and then a semi-final. Usually in years past she gets more caught out in the first week, not the second week.
“People are maybe feeling more confident now. I think Kerber set it up. Once she beat Serena in Australia, everybody thought, ‘Oh, we have a chance’.”