With smart tactics and solid hitting, Angelique Kerber returns to the number one spot in the rankings after winning her first round match at the Mutua Madrid Open, her first win in Madrid since 2013, against the dangerous Timea Babos, who hit a massive 35 unforced errors and was misfiring throughout the match.
Kerber takes the first set
A lengthy game started the match as Babos served first, with Kerber not showing any glimpse of a slow start and the Hungarian misfiring her usually-solid shots. Missing three-game point opportunities, Babos got herself into deep trouble as Kerber turned out the fresher one, relying on some consistent groundstrokes to make the first breakthrough and take the early lead.
Overcoming some early nerves on her serve which saw her throw in a double fault, Kerber quickly regained her composure and stability to consolidate the break and earn a two-game advantage. The current world number two then broke serve once more, looking great in all aspects and looked to be cruising through the match with a double break lead.
However, Babos prevented herself from lagging behind further as she immediately broke back to love and lessened the deficit, leaving a lifeline for her. Hitting the right shots but not finding her range initially, Babos had her first service hold of the day, winning two consecutive games after the last changeover.
A string of comfortable service holds followed for both players as the world number 34 found herself serving to stay in the set while being down 3-5. With Kerber starting to moonball and mix up her rhythm, Babos started to make numerous unforced errors and it saw the German earning three set points in that marathon game.
Nevertheless, errors from Kerber herself cost her greatly as she wasted all three of them and allowed Babos to narrowly hold serve in the 14-points game. This time it was Kerber serving for the set, and she did not disappoint as she comfortably held her serve to 15, sealing the first set within just 44 minutes.
Kerber strolls to victory
It was a much better start to the second set for Babos, who held her serve to love by keeping the rallies short and going up to the net more often. Kerber had to come from 0-30 down in the next game to hold her serve, prevailing in long rallies as she prevented Babos from taking the lead. Losing her focus a little and starting to misfire, Babos was troubled by the stubborn Kerber defense as she was broken again to trail by a set and a break, gifting Kerber the advantage in the second set.
Consolidating the break of serve, Kerber looked like she sealed the win as she opened up a 3-1 lead, with Babos being visibly frustrated with herself. The frustration got over the Hungarian as she was often troubled by the moonballs and long rallies, and despite saving three break points, she made yet another unforced error to allow Kerber to break serve once more and take a formidable double break advantage.
With her backhand looking very solid, Kerber fended off the tough challenge of Babos and consolidated the break, putting herself just one game away from the victory. Despite getting a consolation game on her serve, Babos eventually fell in straight sets as Kerber showed everyone who is the boss on the court, hitting an ace on match point, triumphing within just 81 minutes.