Angelique Kerber vs Ekaterina Makarova, Roland Garros R1 Preview

Roland Garros, ??? R1 Preview + Prediction
(1) ?? Angelique Kerber vs ?? Ekaterina Makarova

The top seeded Angelique Kerber will begin her Roland Garros campaign against a familiar foe as she takes on Ekaterina Makarova in the first round in Paris. This will be the twelfth encounter between the pair, Kerber currently holds a 7-4 record over Makarova and has dominated the Russian in recent times. This is a tough first round match for both ladies, both have struggled at Roland Garros in recent years and will be desperate to reserve that trend in 2017.

Despite being the top seed heading into the second Grand Slam of the year, there is not a high amount of pressure on Kerber. The German has no points to defend over the next fortnight given she suffered a first round exit at the hands of Kiki Bertens in 2016. This should play into Kerber’s hands, the German’s form in the lead up to Roland Garros was not great, going 3-3 in the clay lead-up events but in a wide open field, she has as good a chance as anyone to go on a deep run in Paris simply because of the belief she built up during her stunning 2016 season.

Ekaterina Makarova is not having a good season. The Russian’s fortunes are unlikely to change in Paris given clay has always been her worst surface, coming up against the top seeded Kerber in the first round is not helpful. Makarova did however show some signs of a form reversal in Rome a couple of weeks ago where she claimed notable wins over Roberta Vinci and Dominika Cibulkova before succumbing in the third round to Kiki Bertens.

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Interestingly, despite all the previous meetings between the two which have resulted in a 7-4 record to Kerber, the pair have never met on an outdoor clay court. Kerber has won the last four matches between the pair, including a 6-3 6-2 win on clay in Stuttgart in 2015 in what was their most recent match and only previous match on a clay court.

These conditions do not favour either player so I do expect this to be a pretty close match. It will be tough for Makarova to hit through Kerber in these conditions, I expect Kerber to be stronger from the back of the court and is likely to outlast Makarova from the baseline more often than not. Kerber has nothing to lose in Paris, with the mentality I think she will do well and come through a tough opener.

Prediction: Angelique Kerber to defeat Ekaterina Makarova in 3 sets

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