Early Qatar Open exit for Kerber

iol spt feb23 Kerber EPA Top seed Angelique Kerber crashed out of the Qatar Open, losing her first tournament match since winning the Australian Open. EPA/LUKAS COCH

Top seed Angelique Kerber crashed out of the Qatar Open on Tuesday, losing her first tournament match since winning the Australian Open last month.

An out-of-sorts Kerber lost in straight sets 7-5, 6-1 to China's Zheng Saisai, who is ranked 71 places below the world number two.

In a lacklustre performance, the German lost her serve six times throughout the match, hit 38 unforced errors -- Saisai hit only eight -- and was beaten in just one hour and eighteen minutes as her opponent dominated.

The second set took just 28 minutes as Kerber's game collapsed.

Kerber, who has not played any singles tournaments since winning against Serena Williams in Melbourne on January 30, grew increasingly exasperated with her form and at one point could be heard telling her coach Torben Beltz that she was tired and had no energy.

Saisai will play Canada's Eugenie Bouchard in the third round.

Bouchard beat the Czech Republic's Denisa Allertova 7-6 (7-0), 7-5 as she recovers from her injury-strewn 2015.

Also through on Tuesday was Petra Kvitova who won 7-6 (7-2), 6-4 against Czech compatriot Barbara Strycova.

Number two seed Simona Halep, the 2014 champion in Doha, was due to play later on Tuesday. – AFP

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