Angelique Kerber will have a target on her back in the 2017 season as she sits at the summit of the world rankings, but said she is relishing the challenge rather than shying away from it.
Kerber won her maiden grand slam at the Australian Open last year and followed it up with a silver medal at the Olympics and a second grand slam title at the US Open, where she dethroned Serena Williams to become world number one.
Despite a couple of poor performances after winning the US Open, the German bounced back at the WTA Finals in Singapore, where she reached the final before losing to Dominika Cibulkova.
“I think it will be a completely different year than 2016,” she said. “There are a lot of challenges that I have now, and I think I’m ready. Of course the pressure is there but it’s a different pressure now.”
Kerber admitted that upon becoming the top-ranked player in women’s tennis, she was shocked by the attention she received.
“The biggest thing was that I have so many things to do,” she said. “It was a really big thing here, and in Germany, and everywhere, so that surprised me a lot. I’m actually just trying to enjoy it – I’m still enjoying it.”
The 28-year-old also pointed out that her road to becoming world number one began at the Brisbane International last year, where she beat Camila Giorgi 5-7, 6-3, 6-0 in the first round before marching to the final, where she fell to Victoria Azarenka.
Starting her campaign at the same event, Kerber is hoping she will enjoy more success this season.
“Starting here with my first round where I played on court one, I think, and I lost the first set,” she said. “Then we had a rain delay and I came back after losing the first set and I won that match.
“So this was the start of my journey in 2016, here in Australia, because then I played every single round better and better. And then, of course, the final [which she lost] against Vika [Azarenka] here was not bad and I went to Melbourne with a lot of confidence.”