Australian Open 🇦🇺 R1 Preview
(21) 🇩🇪 Angelique Kerber vs 🇩🇪 Anna-Lena Friedsam
Angelique Kerber arrives at Melbourne Park as the form player on tour heading into the first Grand Slam of the season. The 21st seed will start her 2018 Australian Open campaign against compatriot Anna-Lena Friedsam on Tuesday. Kerber had a very poor 2017 but has made an extremely impressive start to her 2018 campaign. Kerber has won 9 matches in lead-up to Melbourne, Kerber claimed her first title since her U.S Open triumph in 2016 by winning the Sydney International last week. If Kerber can bring the form she showed in Sydney to Melbourne, she will be one of the main contenders for the title over the next fortnight.
Angelique Kerber’s struggles in 2017 were well documented. The signs are that those struggles are behind Kerber as the German showed signs of her 2016 form during the first 2 weeks of the new year. Kerber amassed a perfect 4-0 record at the Hopman Cup before heading to Sydney where she won her first title since 2016. Over the those two weeks, Kerber claimed notable victories over Elise Mertens, Belinda Bencic, Lucie Safarova, Venus Williams, Dominika Cibulkova and Ashleigh Barty amongst others. Not a bad list of scalps heading into the first major of the year. Kerber seems relaxed and fit, importantly she seems to be very motivated again which makes her a real threat.
Anna-Lena Friedsam made her comeback to the WTA tour late last year after over a year on the side-lines due to injury. Friedsam had some success late last year, coming through the qualifying draw to win the ITF 25K event in Shrewsbury. In 2018 the German started her season last week in Hobart. Friedsam was able to claim her first tour level victory since Wimbledon 2016 with a hard-fought 3 set win over Alison Van Uytvanck. The 23-year-old was beaten in the second round by eventual finalist Mihaela Buzarnescu in 2 tight sets.
The only previous match between the pair took place on clay in Nuremburg in 2014, Kerber won that match 6-2 7-6. On paper, this is a big mismatch, Kerber is ranked over 300 places above Friedsam and is in superb form. However, it may not be that easy, Friedsam is very talented and capable of playing great tennis, we saw that in 2016 when Friedsam reached the fourth round at Melbourne Park.