Confidence key for Kerber in maintaining top spot
By John O'Brien
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Angelique Kerber enjoyed a perfect Tuesday in Singapore, first easing past Simona Halep 6-4 6-2 to claim her second WTA Finals round robin win of the week before she was presented with the year-end world number one trophy.
Kerber stormed up the rankings in a breakout season that garnered two grand slam victories and the 28-year-old German admits her sky-high confidence is as much a weapon as her whipped forehand and incredible retrieving skills.
"I have much more confidence right now because I know how to win very big matches, tight matches. I know what to do to go for it and just take the game in my hands," Kerber told reporters.
"I believe much more in my game and in myself than I did 12 months ago, especially after Singapore one year ago," she added.
"I won so many good matches this year. I won two grand slams, so that's why I believe much more in myself right now."
Her win over Halep followed a tough three-set triumph over Dominika Cibulkova on Sunday, leaving the German needing to take just one set off Madison Keys on Thursday to advance to the semi-finals of the elite eight-woman event for a first time.
Kerber was in exactly the same situation a year ago but buckled under pressure and lost in straight sets to Lucie Safarova to stumble out of the event in a bad-tempered huff, an experience which forced her to change her on-court attitude.
"I was not playing so well in the big tournaments last year, so at the start of this year I wanted to be more focused on the big tournaments and the grand slams, making sure I had good preparations for those tournaments. That was my goal," added the Australian and U.S. Open champion.
"It worked very well this year and next year will be same: to really focus on the really big events."
With world number two Serena Williams absent through a shoulder injury, Kerber is assured of the number one spot she reached last month until the end of 2016 and the German believes achieving that feat at 28 has made her more appreciative.
"It's still a new challenge but I feel I can enjoy it more now than when I was like 20 years old, because I have much more experience of how to behave and what I have to do off court," the left-hander added.
(Editing by Pritha Sarkar)