As with Sara Errani, early in 2013 it looked as if Angelique Kerber was heading for a fall. Like Errani, she had shot into the Top 10 the previous year, seemingly from nowhere. And like Errani, she got off to a slow start when a back injury led to first-round losses in Doha and Dubai. By the following month in Indian Wells, where she reached the semifinals, the German had stabilized, but it wasn’t until the fall, when she won the title in Linz and reached the final in Tokyo, that Kerber found her game in full again.
Kerber will be 26 in January. It’s hard to say at the moment whether her best tennis is still ahead of her, or whether she has overachieved the last two seasons. Most likely, she’s where she belongs: Ranked No. 9, steady enough to win her early-round matches, but not explosive or varied enough to beat the women ahead of her.
Ad-In: Kerber has reached two Grand Slam semifinals, at the U.S. Open in 2011, and at Wimbledon in 2012, but she didn’t get past the fourth round at any of them last year. She has scattered a few wins over the top players, but she’ll likely need a good draw to go deep again.
Ad-Out: Which was the real Kerber, the middling one who played until September, or the very good one who made a successful last-minute drive for Istanbul? She may need to up her ambition level over the course of the season to avoid falling out of the Top 10 again.
As we approach the new year, we'll take a closer look at what's in store for the past year's top performers. To read more of our 2014 Season Previews, click here.