Tennis is a “life comes at you fast” sport, and no one has felt that more than Angie Kerber.
The German left the 2016 US Open holding not only the title, but the No. 1 ranking as well. Just 12 months later, Tuesday saw her go out quickly in the first round to rising 19-year-old Naomi Osaka, 6-3, 6-1. This comes months after making history in a bad way at the French Open, where another tough matchup (Ekaterina Makarova) led to Kerber becoming the first women’s top seed to lose her opener in Paris.
Struggling with confidence as well as an under-reported elbow issue, Kerber has not won a title since that 2016 US Open, and she has not beaten a top 20 player this season. In addition, she is now assured of dropping out of the top 10.
After a strong summer for the much-maligned crew of top WTA players with Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka all absent at various points recently, three of the top eight seeds are out. No. 2 Simona Halep lost to Sharapova on Monday while Johanna Konta was bounced by Aleksandra Krunic.
For Osaka, it’s her first career win over a top-1o player. To casual fans, she is likely most well-known for wilting after holding a 5-1 lead in the third set at last year’s event over Madison Keys, but she has immense potential if she can harness her power. Guaranteed to face unseeded players in her next two matches, Osaka’s draw is not imposing. Due to the rain preventing play on outside courts, Osaka is one of the only players to have advanced thus far on Day 2 in New York.