Wimbledon 2017: Angelique Kerber struggles to beat qualifier Irina Falconi

Angelique Kerber

Angelique Kerber lost to Serena Williams in the 2016 Wimbledon final

Angelique Kerber avoided an early upset as the world number one overcame a spirited battle by American qualifier Irina Falconi to reach the second round of Wimbledon.

Kerber, who reached last year’s final, has struggled for form in 2017 and lost in the first round of the French Open.

The German was again not at her best against world number 247 Falconi but eventually came through 6-4 6-4.

Kerber will next play either Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens or Japan’s Misaki Doi.

“The first round here is always tough,” said Kerber.

“[Falconi] had nothing to lose. She came from through the qualifiers. It was a good match from both of us and it is always good to have a difficult match in the first round.”

Kerber had a stunning year in 2016 as she won the Australian and US Opens and reached the final of Wimbledon, where she lost 7-5 6-3 to Serena Williams.

She initially showed glimpses of her best form on her return to Centre Court on Tuesday, racing into a 3-0 lead in the first set.

However, 15 unforced errors and an impressive display by Falconi meant the 29-year-old had to work for her place in the second round.

Analysis – ‘A step in the right direction’

Nine-time Wimbledon singles champion Martina Navratilova

“Kerber said the memories of last year’s final came back. She came out playing like she did last year in the finals. She needs to get into that mindset more if she wants to get into the final again.

“It was definitely a much better performance than we have seen so far this year. She still needs to be more aggressive but it was a step in the right direction.”

Muguruza makes light work of Alexandrova

Meanwhile, 14th seed Garbine Muguruza defeated Ekaterina Alexandrova of Russia 6-2 6-4 to progress in just over one hour.

Muguruza, 23, is aiming to better her run to the third round of Wimbledon in 2014.

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