Former Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber has backed herself to thrive at the 2021 tournament despite the disadvantage of spending two weeks in a hard hotel quarantine.
On Wednesday, Australia’s Ellen Perez, who also spent 14 days confined to her hotel room, said she’d struggle to see any players who’d been through the experience winning the tournament.
But 2016 champion Kerber, who got much-needed match practice via three lead-up matches this week ahead of her first-round clash with American Bernarda Pera, was more philosophical.
“I have no idea (whether a player in hard quarantine can win the Australian Open) – to be realistic, of course, right now I don’t have a lot of expectation and the pressure’s also a little bit less than before the two weeks,” Kerber told AAP.
“Because I was practising very well, I had a great off-season … but now it’s a little bit different and I don’t know (what will happen).
“I know that I can trust me, I know how it is to play on big courts, how to play grand slams but of course this one will be completely different.
The 23rd seed also attempted to take the positives from her tough quarantine experience – caused by someone on her flight to Melbourne testing positive for COVID-19.
“For me, it was more like ‘okay, it was bad luck that I was on the plane’ and I planned it a little bit different, but I tried to do my workouts, to watch Netflix, talk with my friends and tried to make everything else (normal),” Kerber said.
“After the two weeks I was so happy to be back on court and I tried to enjoy it even more than before the two weeks.
“Of course it was an experience and I hope I will never get the experience again – but I tried to make the best out of the situation and also stay relaxed and positive.”
Defending champion Sofia Kenin wasn’t underestimating any players, like Kerber, who had gone through hard quarantine.
“Yeah, definitely they can compete,” Kenin told reporters on Saturday.
“Any player can win on any given day and just because they didn’t practise for two weeks, doesn’t mean they don’t know how to play tennis.
“Obviously they know how to play and they’re great players – so you can’t underestimate them, for sure.”