Tennis

Top-seeded Kerber reaches Round of 16

Angelique Kerber returns a shot to Shelby Rogers during today's match at the Miami Open at the Crandon Park Tennis Center on Key Biscayne on Sunday, March 26, 2017.
Angelique Kerber returns a shot to Shelby Rogers during today's match at the Miami Open at the Crandon Park Tennis Center on Key Biscayne on Sunday, March 26, 2017. pfarrell@miamiherald.com

OK, Mr. Tennis Expert, who is the No. 1 women’s player in the world?

You think to yourself, that’s an easy one.

“Serena Williams,” you blurt out.

Nearly everyone seems to think, and it seems as simple as putting away an overhead slam just a few feet over the net, that it’s Williams and her 23 titles in majors and her career 85.76 winning percentage in singles matches that has her at No. 1.

Think again, Tennis Expert, because Serena is not No. 1.

That position would be held by Angelique Kerber of Germany, the winner of only two majors. Serena nestles in just behind her at No. 2 while sitting out the Miami Open trying to recuperate from a left-knee strain.

On Sunday, Kerber advanced to the Round of 16 at the Miami Open with a not-so-easy 6-4, 7-5 victory over hard-hitting Shelby Rogers of the United States. Kerber lost the first three games of the first set before settling in with her game, and that tough beginning ended with a smile for Kerber — even if it was a smile of relief.

Kerber’s triumph meant she moves on to Monday and a meeting with Risa Ozaki of Japan.

“She has nothing to lose,” Kerber said of Ozaki, “so it should be another good match.”

Of Sunday’s match, Kerber said: “I was trying to feel my game again. I was moving good, but it was not easy because [Rogers] did not play badly. I was trying to stay positive and play my tennis.

“It’s always good to have close sets, especially when you win them at the end because they give you confidence. I’m looking forward to the next match.”

Kerber has become a fan of both Miami and this tournament.

While in town, she went to a Heat game on Tuesday night. Of that experience, she said: “I had a really great time.”

Kerber, 29, who was born in Poland and grew up in Germany and has dual citizenship, speaks three languages — Polish, German and English.

However, her love of country seems to be mostly with Germany.

“I am German. I play for Germany and my heart beats for Germany,” she has said.

Nevertheless, there was an addendum, “My heart beats for Poland, too.”

What about that No. 1 ranking and Williams lurking one step down the rankings staircase.

Pressure?

Certainly.

However, Kerber will keep doing what she has been doing.

And that’s not a bad strategy.

So far, that has made her No. 1 in the world — even if a lot of people don’t know that.

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