Angelique Kerber had the season of her life in 2016. She managed to win the Australian Open, reached the Wimbledon final, won a silver medal at the Olympics and won the US Open. To add a monstrous cherry on top, she wrangled the number ranking away from Serena Williams. Granted, Serena only played 8 events last season but the effort put forth by Kerber allowed her to become the oldest player ever to attain the number 1 ranking for the first time at the age of twenty-eight. One of the main questions heading into the 2017 season was whether Kerber could back up the tremendous effort put forth last year.

As many have said before, getting to the top is one thing, staying there is a whole other animal.

The pressure of being the hunted is taking a toll

For all of Kerber’s career, she had always been viewed as a viable top 10 player that on her day, could challenge the best players in the world. However, she always had players like Serena Williams, standing in front of her and thus was always chasing after someone. When she finally made that major breakthrough in Australia, the entire tennis world took noticed. Not only did she win a major but she defeated Serena in the final. She could no longer hide behind the fact that she had never fulfilled her potential. From that moment forward, she was a major champion and someone that everyone wanted to beat.

The higher your ranking moves up, the harder other players try when playing against you. Everyone wants to be famous and defeating the world number 1 automatically gives you top billing in any newspaper. As Kerber continued to experience mammoth success, she could no longer afford to have off days because the hundreds of girls ranked below her wanted the scalp of a major champion.

Her only blimp last season came at the French Open where she lost in the first round. Kerber finished her season with a loss in the WTA finals to Dominika Cibulkova but no one could have predicted the start to her 2017 season.

Defending your status is much harder than it looks

Serena Williams has made it look simple but do not be mistaken; defending your status as the best player in the world is difficult.

With such a strong leader on the WTA tour like Serena, the other players have never had the spotlight shine brightly on them before. With Kerber sitting atop the rankings, she faltered, losing in the first round of both Brisbane and Sydney. A shocking loss to American, Coco Vandeweghe cemented the bad summer that Kerber had in Australia and left may scratching their heads. With her win at the Australian Open, Serena recaptured her number 1 status but even with that win, Kerber still has the chance to regain the number 1 ranking in Dubai this week. Serena would have much more of a cushion if she played the same number of events as Kerber but considering that the American is 35, her schedule is only going to become more limited.

However with her recent struggles, her focus should be on winning a match instead of a ranking. Kerber is an enigma and at the drop of a hat she can regain her form. For her sake, she should hope that is sooner rather than later.