Angelique kerber has not yet talked to her role model steffi graf about the career-grand-slam. Only six players in the history of professional tennis have won the title at all four rough tournaments.
But just before the start of the french open, the wimbledon winner is trying to temper the high expectations. "I start the french open with a mix of confidence and calm, without any rough expectations," kerber told the german press agency. "The grand slams are always a spectacle and these debates are part of the anticipation of everyone involved. I see this calmly and can meanwhile classify it well."
Since midweek, the 31-year-old from kiel has been training on the red clay courts at the bois de boulogne. "I’m happy to be here. Two weeks ago I wasn’t sure if I would be able to play at all," kerber said in paris. Because to call her preparation mixed is an understatement.
First a flu infection and the cancellation for the fed cup, then the early exit at the home tournament in stuttgart, the bone injury at the tournament in madrid and the cancellation for rome – before her first-round assignment against 18-year-old russian anastasia potapova on sunday, kerber has played only three matches on her already least appreciated surface. "Now i have to deal with the situation and focus on the first round here," she said.
And yet the world number five will of course be among the contenders for the title again in the next two weeks. As has often been the case in women’s tennis in the recent past, the one top favorite – like rafael nadal in the men’s singles – cannot be determined in the select field of 128.
In 2016, kerber triumphed at the australian open and the u.S. Open, last year she won the title in the final against serena williams at the grass-court classic in wimbledon – and the right-hander who plays with her left was always right with her tactics of understatement and restraint before the tournament began. For women’s head coach and former national coach barbara rittner, too, kerber’s "meticulousness and discipline" have always made her an extended group of title candidates.
Kerber, too, is all about the public’s expectations. "If i get the chance to complete the career grand slam, that would be great, but i’m not thinking about it yet. I don’t put any pressure on myself," she said in an interview with the women’s organization WTA.
She has not yet made it past the quarterfinals at the french open, having already been eliminated in round one on five occasions. Kerber was asked whether she had already received tips from steffi graf. On dealing with the pressure and what it’s like to complete the career grand slam?
"I haven’t talked to steffi about it yet, but if the opportunity arises, i would be happy to talk to her about it," kerber said, adding: "she knows these emotions and the burden on one’s shoulders. And she knows how to achieve something so special."Kerber would love to be number seven, having triumphed in all four grand slam tournaments.