Champion Kerber is outclassed by Coco
Another world No.1 and top seed left the Australian Open yesterday, to nobody's great surprise. The defending champion Angelique Kerber has been shaky since the off and was comfortably second-best against the unseeded American Coco Vandeweghe.
The added responsibility of the No.1 ranking has not agreed with Kerber. A naturally private person, she has been thrown into numerous extra commitments since winning September's US Open.
Vandeweghe is a huge hitter whose crunching serve and scudding groundstrokes have been particularly effective at Wimbledon. Yesterday, more than half of the 57 points she won in her 6-2, 6-3 victory were clean winners.
But even when Vandeweghe sent over an ordinary rally ball, Kerber was quite capable of miscuing it.
As Kerber said afterwards: "She had, for sure, a good day. But, yeah, I make a lot of mistakes. I think that was not my game I play normally."
The stats suggested that a third Slam win in just over 12 months would be beyond the reach of Kerber, who has not won a title since reaching the top of the rankings. Even more striking is her record against top-50 players in that time: five wins from 12 matches.
Vandeweghe is not the most gracious of players, being known for hurling her racket at the slightest provocation, but her temper never really came into play yesterday because she was always ahead .
Afterwards she said she had come out feeling awful, but decided to "fake it till you make it".