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Kerber vows to return stronger after first round exit

 

By Eleanor Crooks

Angelique Kerber insisted she can return to the level that made her a two-time Grand Slam champion and World No.1 after a disappointing season hit a new low.

The German's 6-3 6-1 defeat to teenager Naomi Osaka made her only the second defending women's champion to lose her first match after Svetlana Kuznetsova in 2005.

Kerber said: "It was not my day. I'm sad. She's a very aggressive player but I knew this. She served very well and was going for it. She played a very good match from the beginning."

Kerber rose to the top of the rankings after winning in both Australia and New York last season but has not claimed a title since nor made a Grand Slam quarter-final.

It was a very tough draw for Kerber against a player regarded as one of the future stars, and Osaka rose to the challenge.

The Japanese-American is a fearless ball-striker and Kerber had no answer, netting a final forehand to succumb meekly after just 65 minutes.

Kerber will now fall outside the top 10. The contrast to 12 months ago could not have been more stark, but she said: "I'm still the same player and the same person.

"I think it's just the matches and how I played last year from the beginning and how I'm struggling this year.

"But I know that I'm strong and I know that I will come back stronger for sure. I know that I will not give up like this.

"I will try to forget the match as soon as possible and look forward again."

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