Kiefer has mix right
By Scott Coghlan
December 29, 2005
CONSISTENT German Nicolas Kiefer hopes a change of preparation will help him atone for the disappointment he experienced at this year's Australian Open.
Kiefer enjoyed another solid season in 2005, but made a shock first-round exit at Melbourne Park, beaten by Belgium's Olivier Rochus in five sets.
Rochus was Kiefer's nemesis, also knocking him out of his warm-up tournament in Adelaide a couple of weeks earlier.
This time around, Kiefer has elected to go with the certainty of at least three singles matches on the same surface as the Australian Open by playing in the mixed teams Hopman Cup, starting on Saturday.
He will team with Anna-Lena Groenefeld, 20, in Perth.
Kiefer, 28, said he had put in a solid preparation for Melbourne and expects the Hopman Cup to round it out.
"You have three good matches for sure against quality opponents and hopefully a fourth one," Kiefer said yesterday.
Kiefer will enter 2006 ranked 23rd in the world, having this year reached the fourth round at the French Open and US Open, and third round at Wimbledon.
Four times this year he was beaten by Roger Federer, and can claim to have taken the only set off the Swiss star at Wimbledon.
Kiefer finished the year strongly to reach finals in Moscow and St Petersburg in October.
Although defeats in those finals took his losing streak in finals to nine, he is confident his best tennis is still to come and is aiming for a return to the top 10 after being ranked as high as No.4 in 2000.
There is no sign of the wrist problems that plagued him in 2004 and some competitive performances against Federer have him believing a Grand Slam title is still within reach.
"I had a big chance to beat Roger at the US Open," Kiefer said.
"My body is better than it has been in years before and my game is coming back. If my health is okay, I can go to another level and take another step."
The Germans' first assignment is the host nation on Saturday. The tie will pit Wayne Arthurs and Kiefer against each other in singles for the first time.
good luck Kiwi in Australia