Angelique Kerber vs Ana Konjuh, Dubai QF Preview

?? Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, QF Preview:
(1) ?? Angelique Kerber vs ?? Ana Konjuh

Thursday’s fourth and final quarter-final of the day at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships promises to be the most intriguing clash of the day when world number 2 Angelique Kerber faces the rapidly improving Ana Konjuh. Kerber has finally found some decent form in Dubai and has huge motivation to win the title this week as she will return to the number 1 ranking if she can go all the way in Dubai. Kerber will face a tough test on Thursday night against the extremely talented Ana Konjuh, an opponent whose best tennis is good enough to beat anyone. Kerber will be wary heading into this one.

Angelique Kerber looked very fragile heading into this year’s Dubai tournament given her poor recent form and a terrible recent record in Dubai. However, Kerber is suddenly a strong favourite to win the tournament after a couple of good wins and most of her biggest rivals succumbing early in the tournament. Kerber has a chance to regain the number 1 ranking if she wins the title this week and that seems like a real possibility. Kerber has looked good in her opening couple of matches in Dubai, claiming two comfortable wins over good opposition, a 6-4 6-3 win over Mona Barthel and a 6-2 6-3 win over Monica Puig.

Ana Konjuh has generally made a good start to 2017 but has had a few letdowns along the way (which are to be expected given her age). The 19-year-old rocketed through her first couple of matches in Dubai, starting with a 6-0 6-1 thrashing of Zhang Shuai before beating Sam Stosur 6-4 6-3. It was in the third round that Konjuh faced her biggest resistance, claiming a very hard-fought 3-6 6-4 7-6 win over Elena Vesnina. Konjuh seemed down and out in the second set when she called for the trainer as she trailed by a set but the Croatian showed no signs of injury as she used her immense power to eventually overwhelm her Russian opponent. Konjuh played a near flawless tiebreak to secure the win.

Angelique Kerber won the only previous match between the pair, a 6-4 6-3 win in Stanford back in 2015. This is a classic counter-puncher vs big hitter battle. Konjuh has extreme firepower but Kerber loves to absorb and redirect power. Konjuh’s best can cause Kerber problems but anything less than the Croatian’s best will result in a Kerber win as Kerber is unlikely to give away too many free points. Given Konjuh’s gruelling third round match yesterday, I doubt she will be able to produce a good enough level to defeat the world number 2. Kerber will make Konjuh play too many shots and eventually break down the youngster.

Prediction: Angelique Kerber to defeat Ana Konjuh in 2 sets

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