A few blows are usually enough and experienced observers will know how things are with Angelique Kerber’s form. This backhand under pressure along the line, for example, or the forehand counterattack, which requires a deep kink; or the cross pass, only briefly blocked and at an astonishing angle – hits that are centimeters at a time; Kerber likes to use them in the formative moments of a game. If the ball drips into the field, Kerber can only be beaten by very few players; if he flies out, Kerber gets into trouble even against supposedly weaker opponents.
On the first day of the US Open, the former was the case – but only very thinly. Against the enormously aggressive and daring Dajana Jastremska, 21, Kerber’s balls often missed, but in the decisive moments into the field – at 4: 4 in the second set (forehand counterattack on the line), at 1: 0 in the decisive third round (Backhand longline into the corner) or in this truly incredible comeback shortly before the end, when she was already 3: 5 and 15:30 behind and at the end – with a backhand cross by the way – still 6: 3, 4: 6, 7 : 6 (3) won.
Kerber, who was expected to reach the second week and possibly more because of good performances this summer (victory in Bad Homburg, each semi-final in Wimbledon and Cincinnati; successes against Petra Kvitova, Cori Gauff and Elina Switolina), turned back sometimes a game that was believed to be lost, and that can definitely be seen as a message for her. She often has a hard time in the first two rounds, in the 2016 triumph in Australia she even had to fend off a match point – but she can carry such a success, especially in the table that is so difficult for her, the three next to her herself up to the round of 16 includes previous finalists (Naomi Osaka, Coco Gauff and Sloane Stephens). The opponent in the second round is Anhelina Kalinina (Ukraine).
In general, it was a successful first day for the German participants. Andrea Petkovic seemed fit and focused as she had not for a long time and won 6: 2, 7: 6 (3) against Irina-Camelia Begu (Romania); Peter Gojowczyk defeated Ugo Humbert (France), who was 23rd, 1: 6, 6: 1, 6: 2, 5: 7, 6: 4. “I was really annoyed twice in the game: When the referee kept pronouncing my name incorrectly in the first sentence – and when I gave up the fourth sentence,” Gojowczyk said afterwards: “But I have to say: In both cases it helped that I was so angry. It had to get out, and after that I was more focused. “
Philipp Kohlschreiber benefited in his win against Marin Cilic (Croatia) from the fact that the US Open winner from 2014 from the middle of the third set on was gasping for air after every stroke due to the difficult conditions (33 degrees on the outer courts) and Kohlschreiber was like so often in his 20-year career that he could rely on the outstanding condition – with the score of 6: 7, 6: 7, 6: 2, 6: 1, 2: 0 from the German point of view, Cilic gave up. “It is of course difficult when the opponent is hurt – and you can see for yourself how unbelievably humid it is,” said Kohlschreiber afterwards: “But I moved him well and I was glad that he gave up. He is a fair sportsman; he knows how funny it is to play against someone who is actually broken. “