Our What's Next? series looks at every player who finished in the ATP or WTA Top 10 this season, and considers their future in three different ways.
There are career-best seasons, and there’s what Kerber has done over last 15 months or so. A 24-year-old German journeywoman who was ranked No. 106 as recently as 2010, she made the semis of Wimbledon, won 60 matches, and upped her ranking all the way to No. 5 in 2012.
Can Kerber’s relentless, unpolished defensive style kept her afloat in that rarefied air? That’s what we’ll find out in 2013, but the signs look good. Kerber was solid from start to finish in 2012, and performed equally well on all surfaces. Most of her losses came to her fellow Top Tenners, but that doesn’t mean she can’t score an upset now and then. Kerber’s scrappy style makes her a tough out for virtually every other player. Now we’ll see how Angie deals with being the favorite in so many more matches.
Best Case Scenario: Kerber has already shown that one stunning result, her run to the semifinals of the U.S. Open in 2011, was no fluke. She should go into 2013 with the confidence that she is now an elite player, with a good shot of making at least the quarters or semis of every tournament she enters.
Worst Case Scenario: With success and confidence come pressure, and Kerber has never anything like this many ranking points to defend from week to week. If she hits a bad stretch and sees her standing sink, the newfound confidence could disappear quickly. Her scambling game also relies on the eventual mistakes of others, which is never a sure path to victory.
Australian Open Outlook: Kerber had a tough draw in Melbourne last year, when she faced, and lost to, Maria Sharapova in the third round. With her new high seeding, she’ll get a better one this year. In theory, the slow hard courts should suit her athletic wallboard style well. An upset and a semifinal berth aren’t out of the question.
More What's Next?
- ATP No. 10, Richard Gasquet
- WTA No. 10, Caroline Wozniacki
- ATP No. 9, Janko Tipsarevic
- WTA No. 9, Sam Stosur
- ATP No. 8, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
- WTA No. 8, Petra Kvitova
- ATP No. 7, Juan Martin del Potro
- WTA No. 7, Li Na
- ATP No. 6, Tomas Berdych
- WTA No. 6, Sara Errani
- ATP No. 5, David Ferrer
- WTA No. 5, Angelique Kerber