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Beijing: Angelique squeaks past Zhang
Sep 30, 2019

No.10 seed Angelique gritted her way through a topsy-turvy three-set tussle with Chinese No.2 Zhang Shuai before claiming a 6-2, 1-6, 6-4 victory in the opening round of the China Open on Sunday night.

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Zhang, currently ranked World No.31, had beaten former World No.1 Kerber in a similarly up-and-down encounter in the round of 16 of last year’s China Open. This time around, though, Kerber was able to take charge down the stretch, winning the final four games of the clash on her way to a one-hour and 54-minute victory.

“I think it was a tough and tight match,” Kerber told the press, after her win. “I was just trying to play every single point at the end, and just trying to take my chances. That was the goal in the third set, and, of course, it’s great to be in the next round.”

Kerber, the winner of three major titles including Wimbledon last year, was more successful on break points in the tilt: Zhang had 14 break points, double Kerber’s amount, but the German converted five of her seven while Zhang was only able to go 4-for-14.

“The first round is always tough to get your rhythm, to come to the tournament, to feel the ball, to play matches,” said Kerber. “Of course I’ll try to take the emotions and the confidence to the next round.”

Next up for Kerber will be Polona Hercog of Slovenia in the second round, after Hercog overcame Julia Goerges in three tough sets in the first round on Monday. Kerber and Hercog have met seven times, with Kerber holding a 5-2 edge in the head-to-head.

“I know [Hercog] very well, we’ve played a few times against each other,” Kerber noted. “She’s serving good, she’s hitting good, the ball is really fast and strong. I think that I have to play my own game and try, like today, to take my chances.”