Angelique Kerber falls to 4-4 as brutal start to season continues

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Angelique Kerber was beaten by Daria Kasatkina for the second time in 2017. (AP)

Angelique Kerber’s underwhelming start to the 2017 season only got worse on Wednesday when she lost her opening-round match to 32nd-ranked Daria Kasatkina in Doha.

The top seed at the Qatar Total Open received a bye into the second round, where she lost one of the most peculiar matches of this young season. After dropping the first set 6-4, the world No. 2 took the second 6-0 in dominant fashion. Seemingly in command heading into the decider, Kerber couldn’t capitalize on the momentum swing and fell 6-4 in the third. It wasn’t easy for the Russian, who needed four set points to complete the upset.

The German, who lost her No. 1 ranking to Serena Williams at the Australian Open last month, is now just 4-4 on the season. She’s lost to Kasatkina twice, Elina Svitolina and CoCo Vandeweghe, and none of her victories have been over players ranked inside the Top 50.

Kerber had her chances in the first set against Kasatkina, but failed to convert six break-point opportunities.

Next up for the two-time Grand Slam champion is the Premier tournament in Dubai, which begins on Sunday.

“I think, first of all, I have to get ready again and feeling good,” Kerber said, according to Sport360’s Reem Abulleil. “I was not feeling very good in the last few days. I think this is the most important thing for me right now. Then, of course, looking forward to the next week.”

Williams is not playing in Doha this week. Karolina Pliskova, the world No. 3 who came into this week 1,845 points behind Kerber, is into the quarterfinals. The Czech will take on Zhang Shuai for a spot in the semis. 

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