Red-hot Kerber fires up in Melbourne



Red-hot former world number one and 2016 champion Angelique Kerber blitzed into the Australian Open second round on Tuesday, dropping just four games in a comfortable victory.

Seeded only 21st, the left-hander is one of the form players heading into the first Grand Slam of the year, and she laid down her title credentials against fellow German Anna-Lena Friedsam.

Kerber sprinted through the first set 6-0 in just 17 minutes before her 388th ranked opponent woke up and started a fightback.

She broke twice on Hisense Arena to make a match of it in the second set before Kerber completed the job 6-4.

"I started well but Anna began playing better and better," said Kerber, who turns 30 on Thursday.

"I was just trying to play it point-by-point in the end, but it's great to be in the next round."

Kerber had a standout 2016 when she won in Australia, beating Serena Williams in the final, to become the first German since Steffi Graf in 1999 to claim a Grand Slam.

She backed it up by being crowned US Open champion and began 2017 as world number one, before her form deserted her and she slumped to 21st by the end of the season.

But a series of wins at the Hopman Cup this month, coupled with ending a 27-tournament title drought by winning the Sydney International -- her first since the US Open -- has restored her confidence.

She is now on a 10-match win streak and with Serena Williams, sister Venus, and US Open champion Sloane Stephens already out, Kerber will be looking to go far.

"2017, I have said goodbye already, I am not looking back," she said.

"I'm feeling good and trying to continue how I have played in the last few weeks. I'm just trying to enjoy it again on court."

Her next test is against either Japan's Nao Hibino or Croat Donna Vekic on Thursday.