As her leading rivals wrap themselves in cotton wool, Angelique Kerber says she can’t get enough tennis ahead of the Australian Open.
The only member of the world’s top 10 not to have suffered a pre-Open setback, Kerber continued her hot start to the new year with an impressive first-round victory at the Sydney International on Monday.
The world No.7 overcame searing heat and a slow start to see off Hopman Cup finalist Elina Svitolina 4-6 6-0 6-3 at Ken Rosewall Arena.
With on-court temperatures nudging 40 degrees at Olympic Park, the WTA’s extreme heat policy was applied, allowing Kerber and Svitolina to take a 10-minute break before the third and deciding set.
That didn’t stop Kerber from struggling in the oppressive conditions.
But rather than taking the easy option, pulling the pin and booking the next flight to Melbourne, the German grit her teeth to secure a second-round date with Russian Ekaterina Makarova.
“I was not feeling so well after the first few games,” said the Brisbane International runner-up.
“I don’t know, it was something with my stomach and I was a little bit … it was hot. I was a little bit tired and my power was not there actually, so I was not 100 per cent.
“But I was just trying to win the match and not think too much about the weather.”
The win was Kerber’s fifth of 2016 and already she feels prepared for the Open.
“I had a lot of matches last week, but that was actually also my plan: to come to Australia, to have a lot of matches and also to play here few more matches,” she said.
“I will stay on my plan. Let’s see. I mean, I’m healthy, I have no pain anywhere.
“And today the match was good for me because it was different than in Brisbane and I know that Melbourne will be hot as well in the next few weeks and days.
“Yeah, it’s good to have a match like this under my belt, that I know what’s going on in Melbourne if it’s hot.
“It’s always hot in Australia.”