Angelique Kerber, the 27 year old from Germany, has beaten probably the best female tennis player of all time, Serena Williams, in a gripping three set match to become Australian Open Grand Slam champion of 2016. I rushed back from my personal training client in Farringdon to watch the highlights on BBC1.
Kerber managed to stay cool calm and collected in this, the biggest match of her life. She’s a solid player who doesn’t over-hit, she plays within herself and has the discipline not to gamble with the lines. She played some brilliant drop-shots (Novak Djokovic should hire her as his drop-shot coach), and outlasted Serena in many rallies.
Serena on the other hand played below her best. Her usual weapons – forehand and serve – were luke-warm in the final, and only 44% of her first serves landed in during the final set. Most likely she was nervous about the prospect of equalling Steffi Graf’s record number of titles. She was impatient, impetuous, tight in key points, but managed to claw back some form during the 3rd set, which resulted in some spectacular games.
Much of Keber’s success is down to her physical fitness training, which she has devoted more time to in the last three years than in all previous years of her career.
Kerber’s friend, doubles partner, and fellow German Andrea Petkovik became her unofficial personal trainer, which boosted Kerber’s physical fitness to new heights. Petkovik is known to be one of the fittest players on the WTA tour, so she was able to push Kerber to her limits in practice sessions.
Kerber has spent a lot of time at the Schuttler-Waske Tennis University in Offenbach, Germany. Under the guidance of athletic coach Dominik Labonte, she has worked hard on the following:
- Mobility & flexibility
- Agility (with Cristiano-style football training involving cones and multi-directional movement)
- Explosive speed (sprints from baseline to net, and along the baseline to enable retrieval of wide balls in groundstroke rallies)
- Leg & glutes strength (enabling her to get right down to low balls, as seen against Serena’s low slices)
- Reactive speed and co-ordination (rapid ball catching; multiple volleys close to a wall, fed from behind her)
- Core strength (using Swiss Ball, to enable her to build the core strength and stability to make wide shots from outside the sidelines)
I predict Angelique Kerber will win more Grand Slams in the next few years.
Dominic Londesborough is a personal trainer in London and author of the Fitness4London blog