Angelique Kerber’s chances of clinging to a small lead at the top of the world rankings may hinge on the quality of her performances at the Birmingham WTA grass court event starting Monday.
They may also have a crucial bearing on Kerber’s ability to challenge for the title at Wimbledon which begins in a fortnight’s time, as she makes the often tricky transition from clay to grass courts at the $800,000 Premier level event.
The signs do not appear good for the 29-year-old Poland-born German, even though she been number one much of the time since September.
She has yet to capture a title this year and none of her 21 wins in 11 tournaments have been against a top 20 opponent.
Nevertheless Kerber is significantly more effective on grass than on clay, and won her first title on the speedier, lower-bouncing surface in Birmingham two years ago. She went on to reach the Wimbledon final last year.
Another good run at the tranquil, tree-lined Edgbaston Priory Club, with its leafy affluence and well- manicured courts, may be within her capacity, and if so it could work wonders for wavering confidence.