Angelique Kerber vs Elina Svitolina, Dubai SF Preview

?? Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, SF Preview:
(1) ?? Angelique Kerber vs (7) ?? Elina Svitolina

Angelique Kerber and Elina Svitolina will renew hostilities on Friday when they collide in the second semi-final of the day at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. There is a lot at stake, firstly this is a premier 5 semi-final, secondly Kerber is two wins away from reclaiming the number 1 ranking and thirdly Elina Svitolina is just two wins away from reaching the top 10 for the first time in her career. Svitolina has won the last two matches between the pair, Kerber will head into this match desperate for revenge, this should be a good one between two very evenly matches opponents.

Angelique Kerber is through to her first semi-final of 2017. Kerber’s level has certainly gone up a notch in Dubai, the German is probably playing the best tennis she has played all year. Kerber has not dropped a set on route to the semi-finals, claiming straight set wins over Mona Barthel, Monica Puig and Ana Konjuh. Kerber’s ability to easily get past Puig and Konjuh (two very dangerous opponents) shows that she is playing well at the moment. It would be huge for Kerber to win the title this week and regain the number 1 ranking, it would really turn her season around and give the German a huge amount of confidence moving forward.

Elina Svitolina has been one of the most consistent ladies on tour in the first couple of months of the season. The Ukrainian is into her third semi-final of the season and as a result she is up to a career high live ranking of number 12 in the world. Svitolina hasn’t been at her best this week in Dubai but her usual tenacity has seen her advance nonetheless. Svitolina started the week with a scrappy 7=5 6-1 win over Saisai Zheng before coming from a set and a break down to beat Christina McHale 4-6 6-4 6-3. Svitolina confirmed her spot in the semi-finals with a 6-0 4-4 demolition of Lauren Davis.

Angelique Kerber holds a 5-4 head-to-head record of Elina Svitolina. However, Svitolina has won their two most recent matches. Svitolina beat Kerber in straight sets in Beijing late last year and upset the then world number 1: 6-4 3-6 6-3 at the Brisbane International earlier this year. Prior to those two wins, Kerber had won three in a row against Svitolina.

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Kerber and Svitolina have developed an interesting rivalry. Despite Kerber’s recent troubles against Svitolina I suspect she will be too strong on this occasion. Kerber has a lot to play for and for the first time in 2017 she seems to have an attitude on court that somewhat resembles the Kerber of 2016. Svitolina may have won their last two matches but on both occasions Kerber put up a lacklustre performance and wasn’t too motivated. This match will be different, Kerber will come out firing and will not give as much away, a determined Kerber will avenge her recent losses to Svitolina and move to within touching distance of the number 1 ranking.

Prediction: Angelique Kerber to defeat Elina Svitolina in 3 sets

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