Top Seed Angelique Kerber Survives a Melbourne Meltdown 

It was a happy 29th birthday for Angelique Kerber after all!

2 min read
(Photo: AP)

Angelique Kerber celebrated her 29th birthday with a shaky 6-2 6-7(3) 6-2 win over Carina Witthoeft at the Australian Open on Wednesday. However, the world number one will have much to ponder about once the candles are blown out.

The top seed opened nervously in a three-set grind with unseeded Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko on Monday and again suffered a meltdown when well on top of 89th-ranked Witthoeft at a breezy Rod Laver Arena.

I’m trying to play more aggressive. But today I was making a few more mistakes. I was not finding my rhythm from the first ball. At the end I won, and this is all that counts for me.
Angelique Kerber

Kerber squandered a 2-0 lead as she headed for victory in the second set, then shipped 10 successive points to lose the tiebreak and then her serve in the first game of the deciding set.

But the plucky 21-year-old Witthoeft, who had swung hard at every ball to rattle the champion, suddenly fell away, allowing Kerber to rally and close out the 128-minute tussle.

It may have been Kerber's special day but she handed out all the presents after taking a 3-1 lead in the tiebreak. She double-faulted twice to allow Witthoeft to nose ahead 4-3 and sprayed a backhand wide to give up three set points.

Desperate and stranded mid-court, Kerber netted a backhand to lose the set and returned to her seat, only to be stunned once more in losing her serve to love.

Witthoeft crumbled to trail 4-1 and Kerber closed out an unconvincing win when her opponent slapped a forehand wide on match point, her 69th unforced error.

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