Angelique Kerber will count heavily on support from “imaginary” fans as Germany’s two-time champion makes her start in an empty stadium for the WTA Stuttgart event.

The treble Grand Slam winner who claimed back-to-back trophies here in 2015-2016, comes into the field unseeded at this crowd-free COVID edition.

But the 33-year-old insisted on Sunday that she will feel the force from the missing public when she takes to the indoor clay court.

“It’s always special to play at home, it’s a great feeling but things will be different this year,” she said. 

“I still know the fans will be in front of the TV – I will try to visualise them by my side.”

Kerber, who is off to a poor start this season with a minor quarter-final at a 250 tournament, is hoping to turn things around this week at home. 

“The hall will be empty, it will be totally different,” she said. “I will just try to play my best in each match.

“I will know that the fans are by my side and are watching me play. I will try to play with emotion and give all that I have.

“I will try to make the best out of this situation.”

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