Angelique Kerber loves New York. Really!
Ok, she hasn’t embraced it like Caroline Wozniacki, who maintains a residence in Manhattan, but New York is where her first major success came and people started knowing the name.
“For me this slam is really special because for me everything starts here,” Kerber said. “I’m also trying to keep the things simple. It’s not so easy here because it’s really loud everywhere, and the traffic, it’s like amazing. Like it’s not so easy. Also to plan something, you have to plan like one or two hours more.
“But still I think I’m trying to keep it easy like inside, just to being relaxed. Just if some things happen not like I would like to happen, just being like relaxed and just looking forward and try to really going out there when I’m stepping on the court to giving everything.
“This is actually what I’m trying here, yeah, to take it easy with.”
Well she had it easy so far at the 2016 US Open. She cruised into the Quarterfinals with a straight sets win over No. 14 seed Petra Kvitova, 6-3 7-5.
For the No. 2 seed, it’s just another step in her quest for a second major and first US Open title. She won the Australian Open this year, but has a poor showing at Roland Garros, going out in the first round and came up as the runner-up at Wimbledon.
So now is the pressure on?
“I think that was the process,” she said. “After Aussie had so many things to deal with. It was completely new situation. Going to Paris with a lot of pressure it was not so easy. I learned from this match and also from this tournament, the pressure which I had. After Paris I was telling myself actually, Okay, you know how the feeling is to win a Grand Slam than to lose in the first round, so just trying to get used to everything around and trying to find the middle.”
Maybe she has found some common ground here. The first week is over and the next three matches – if she gets that far – will not be easy. She has No. 7 seed Roberta Vinci on Tuesday for the Quarterfinals, someone who she hasn’t played in a while.
“I mean, she played here amazing tournament last year, so she has great memories and she will go for it,” she said. “But for me it’s important to go out there, playing my game again, and, yeah, trying to take this challenge against Roberta and to try to win the quarters here.”
Then she possibly Wozniacki in the Semifinals and then Serena or Venus Williams may be calling in the Finals next Saturday.
So it’s not going to be easy. But now she’s a major champion, which is something she wasn’t when Kerber last played at the Open.
“It’s changed because now I know that I can win such a big tournament,” Kerber said. “Last year I was not playing my best in the big tournaments. This was my goal this year, to going out there in the Grand Slams and reaching the second week.
“So Australia gives me a lot of confidence that I can go for it also in the big tournaments, win close matches, and also playing, yeah, on the big stages against great players as well.
“For me mentally Australia was really important, yeah, for everything which cames after.”
And if she does make it to Saturday, she will really love New York.