World number one Angelique Kerber announced her withdrawal from the Aegon Classic, a WTA event held in Birmingham, due to a lingering hamstring injury. Following an incredible 2016 that saw Kerber win the Australian Open, the US Open and reach the finals at both Wimbledon and the Olympics, in 2017 she’s played 12 events and only twice made it as far as the semis. Most recently, Kerber lost to another lefty, Ekaterina Makarova, in the first round of Roland Garros, by the rather demoralizing score of 6-2, 6-2. Hopefully, Kerber can regain her health and confidence and compete effectively at Wimbledon.
Kvitova Comeback Continues
In what’s already one of the best feel-good stories of recent times, Petra Kvitova continues her comeback. Back in action after suffering a torn tendons in her left hand as the result of being stabbed by burglars last December, Kvitova first returned to competition at Roland Garros. This was a smart approach. There was little expectation that Kvitova would win the French Open. But it was valuable for her to take in the emotions, kick off the competitive cobwebs and play two matches on a big stage. Kvitova now gets it going on grass, the surface where she’d had her best results. Always gracious, she will generate significant applause – and, if her powerful game finds the range, significant results. Though of course that’s a big if at this stage of her return, it’s certainly plausible.
Spanish Southpaw Thrives on Favorite Surface
On the men’s side, a Spanish southpaw who is 30-plus year old this month has posted a fine result on his favorite surface. But his name is not Rafael Nadal. Nor is the surface clay, which as we know is by now a relic, so early June. Thirty-five-year-old Feliciano Lopez won four matches on the grass of Stuttgart, his victims including such formidable competitors as Gilles Simon, Tomas Berdych and Mischa Zverev. In the finals, hoping to win his sixth career singles title, Lopez won the first set against Lucas Pouille 6-4, but then lost the next two, 7-6, 6-4. Frustrated as he was by that result, Lopez’s old school lefty game – serve-volley, slice backhand – can certainly take him far at Wimbledon.