Ash Barty vs. Angelique Kerber, Wimbledon SF Preview

🇬🇧 Wimbledon SF: 🇦🇺 (1) Ash Barty vs. 🇩🇪 (25) Angelique Kerber

A blockbuster semi-final match-up from SW19 features a pair of former Grand Slam champions as the top seeded Ash Barty takes on 3-time major champion Angelique Kerber. A fascinating match-up between two proven champions, two ladies that are extremely comfortable on the grass, two players full of confidence at the moment, expect a high-quality contest. Who wins?

Neither player has necessarily been at their best for the entire tournament, both dropping sets in the early stages, but both are finding their best form at the business end of the tournament. Barty snapped reigning Roland Garros champion Barbora Krejcikova’s 15-match winning streak in the fourth round before comfortably accounting for Ajla Tomljanovic to book a spot in a maiden Wimbledon semi-final.

Ashleigh Barty’s route to the semi-finals:

R1: Def. Carla Suarez Navarro 6-1 6-7 6-1
R2: Def. Anna Blinkova 6-4 6-3
R3: Def. Katerina Siniakova 6-3 7-5
R4: Def. (14) Barbora Krejcikova 7-5 6-3
QF: Def. Ajla Tomljanovic 6-1 6-3

Angelique Kerber route to the semi-finals:

R1: Def. Nina Stojanovic 6-4 6-3
R2: Def. Sara Sorribes Tormo 7-5 5-7 6-4
R3: Def. Aliaksandra Sasnovich 2-6 6-0 6-1
R4: Def. (20) Cori Gauff 6-4 6-4
QF: Def. (19) Karolina Muchova 6-2 6-3

Angelique Kerber dropped sets to Sara Sorribes Tormo and Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the first week but has been far more clinical in the second week with commanding straight set wins over Cori Gauff and Karolina Muchova to progress to her 8th Grand Slam semi-final, her 4th at Wimbledon.

Kerber holds a 3-2 head-to-head record over Barty, their most recent meeting was at the Hopman Cup at the start of 2019, Kerber won that match 6-4 6-4, much has changed since then. It will be interesting to see how their first meeting on a grass court unfolds, especially with so much on the line.

I’ll be siding with the 2018 Wimbledon champion. This is arguably the worst possible match-up for Barty on a grass court, she faces the best counterpuncher on tour on her favourite surface. If there’s any type of opponent that Barty can struggle with, it’s a top level, consistent baseliner, the Aussie has had problems with players such Sofia Kenin, Elina Svitolina, Simona Halep and Angelique Kerber herself. Kerber’s strengths specifically counter Barty’s strengths. Kerber’s movement, consistency and ability at end range make her a problematic match-up for Barty. Kerber won’t be too bothered by Barty’s versatility, and the Aussie is unlikely to consistently hit through the German enough to get the win. Kerber will be happy to pound away at the Barty backhand and will clinically finish into the open spaces that present. Kerber is more experienced at stage of a major and has shown that she can handle the occasion better than Barty has in the past.

Prediction: Angelique Kerber to defeat Ash Barty in 2 sets

Ashleigh Barty vs. Garbine Muguruza, Doha QF Preview

??? Qatar Total Open, Doha QF Preview + prediction:
?? (1) Ashleigh Barty vs. ?? (11) Garbine Muguruza

A blockbuster quarter-final clash at the 2020 Qatar Total Open sees the top seeded Ashleigh Barty come up against a red-hot Garbine Muguruza. A heavyweight battle between a pair of Grand Slam champions. It is Barty who heads into this clash as the favourite, the world number 1 holds a 2-1 H2H record over the Spaniard but is unlikely to have things all her own way against a resurgent opponent.

Ash Barty hasn’t had to do much at all to advance to the final 8 in Doha. Barty received a bye in the first round before easily defeating Laura Siegemund 6-3 6-2. Barty then received a walkover into the quarter-finals as Elena Rybakina pulled out of their scheduled third round match. It is therefore hard to get a read of how well Barty is playing this week.

Garbine Muguruza has overcome 3 decent opponents to reach the final 8 stage in Doha. The 11th seed started the event with a hard-fought 7-5 5-7 6-3 win over Daria Kasatkina. Muguruza picked up her level in her next couple of matches to record straight set wins over Ajla Tomljanovic and Dayana Yastremska, 6-1 6-2 over the Aussie and 6-2 6-4 over the Ukrainian.

Ash Barty has won 2 of the 3 previous meetings over Muguruza. It was Barty who won the most recent match between the pair, a 6-3 6-4 victory at the Hopman Cup last year. It was Muguruza who won their most recent tour-level match, a 6-0 3-6 6-2 victory at the Rogers Cup in 2017.

I’m going to go for the upset here. Muguruza has generally played the better tennis of the pair in 2020 and has the power to dominate this match-up. If Muguruza is patient with the Barty slice and picks the right moments to attack, she should be too strong, especially on a relevantly slow hard court. Muguruza has already beaten 3 decent opponents this week, she has a good rhythm and confidence. Barty is vulnerable.

Prediction: Garbine Muguruza to defeat Ashleigh Barty in 3 sets
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Ash Barty vs. Sofia Kenin, Australian Open SF Preview

?? Australian Open, SF #1 preview + prediction:
?? (1) Ash Barty vs. ?? (14) Sofia Kenin

Ash Barty continues her quest to become the first Australian woman to win the Australian Open since 1978 when she comes up against the 14th seeded Sofia Kenin in the first semi-final on Thursday. Barty heads into this match as a strong favourite but will be unlikely to have things all go her own way against a feisty opponent that has previously beaten the Australian. 

Ash Barty is on a 9-match winning streak heading into semi-final day at Melbourne Park. The world number 1 arrived in Melbourne fresh from winning the title in Adelaide and has steadily worked her way into top form at her home major to reach the final 4 for the first time. Barty has twice been pushed to 3 sets this tournament but managed to get the job done in 2 over her trickiest opponent thus far to confirm her spot in the semi-finals with a 7/6 6/2 win over the 7th seeded Petra Kvitova. The Barty backhand slice continues to cause her opponents all types of problems, a weapon that could take Barty all the way to the title. 

Sofia Kenin has made the most of a favourable draw to motor her way through to a maiden Grand Slam semi-final appearance. Kenin moved through the first week with straight set wins over Martina Trevisan, Ann Li and Shuai Zhang. It was in the fourth round that the American dropped her only set of the tournament, fighting from behind to defeat Cori Gauff 6/7 6/3 6/0. Kenin booked her spot in the semi-finals with a tricky 6/4 6/4 win over Ons Jabeur. 

Barty heads into this clash with a 3-1 head-to-head record over Kenin. The pair met on 3 occasions in 2019, it was Barty who won the most recent match between the pair, a 6/3 7/5 win in Wuhan. Kenin pushed Barty to 3 sets at Roland Garros before beating the Aussie 6/7 6/3 6/4 at the Rogers Cup. 

I get the sense of an upset here, I’ll side with Kenin. This is certainly the biggest test Barty has faced, Kenin is a difficult match-up for Barty and is not messing around at the moment. Kenin has beaten Barty on a hard court, recently at the Rogers Cup last year and has challenged Barty in all of their previous matches. Kenin has the solid baseline game to deal with the variety of Barty, she isn’t afraid to get into extended rallies and has the firepower to hurt the Aussie when the right opportunity presents. Kenin will be able to deal with the Barty backhand slice better than any of the Aussie’s previous opponent have this tournament. Barty has mainly faced powerful opponents at this event but will face a different task here. 

Prediction: Sofia Kenin to defeat Ash Barty in 3 sets
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Ashleigh Barty vs. Alison Riske, Australian Open R4 Preview

?? Australian Open, R4 preview + prediction:
?? (1) Ashleigh Barty vs. ?? (18) Alison Riske

Ash Barty continues her 2020 Australian Open campaign on Sunday with a fourth round clash against America’s Alison Riske. This match-up looms as a real test for the world number 1, Riske has won both of the previous matches between the pair, including a big upset victory at Wimbledon last year. Barty is working her way into some good form and will head into this match keen for revenge.

Ash Barty enters the second week of the tournament as the favourite to lift the trophy. The pressure is on. The top half of the draw has seriously opened up for Barty and her form is seemingly getting stronger and stronger. Barty made a scrappy start to the event with a 5/7 6/1 6/1 victory over Lesia Tsurenko before producing an improved performance to defeat Polona Hercog 6/1 6/4. Barty stepped up her level in the third round with a commanding 6/3 6/2 victory over the previously in-form 29th seeded Elena Rybakina. Barty has now won 7 matches in a row having won the tournament in Adelaide before arriving in Melbourne.

Alison Riske is through to the second week at Melbourne Park for the first time in her career. The 19th seed moved through a tough opening round match with a 7/6 2/6 6/3 win over Yafan Wang before cruising past Lin Zhu 6/3 6/1. Riske advanced to the round of 16 thanks to an extremely hard-fought 1/6 7/6 6/2 win over Julia Goerges. Riske has consistently defied the odds over the last 12 months and will fancy her chances of continuing that trend against Barty, an opponent she has good memories against.

Alison Riske holds a 2-0 head-to-head record over Ash Barty. Both of the previous matches between the pair were on a grass court, most recently Riske shocked Barty at Wimbledon last year with a 3/6 6/2 6/3 victory. Riske also defeated Barty 7/6 7/5 at an ITF event in Eastbourne in 2016.

I’m going to side with Barty here despite her previous struggles against Riske. This time the condition favour Barty, a reasonably slow hard court and a passionate Aussie crowd by her side. Barty has the game to control this match-up and is playing well enough to do just that. Barty has a far superior serve, a far more versatile game and the power and stamina to match Riske from the baseline. Barty will come into this match ready for a tough one given their most recent match and is too good to make the same mistake again.

Prediction: Ashleigh Barty to defeat Alison Riske in 2 sets
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Ashleigh Barty vs. Elina Svitolina, WTA Finals Shenzhen Final Preview

???? WTA Finals – Shenzhen Final preview
?? (1) Ashleigh Barty vs. ?? (8) Elina Svitolina

A blockbuster championship match will conclude the inaugural WTA Finals Shenzhen as top seed and world number 1 Ashleigh Barty comes up against defending champion Elina Svitolina. It is Svitolina who heads into this match with a distinct edge given her dominant 5-0 head-to-head record over the Aussie. However, Barty has improved significantly in 2019, has the world number 1 improved her game enough to finally get the better of Svitolina?

Ash Barty has the chance to finish her greatest season on the ultimate high. Barty will end the year as number 1 and can extend the gap at the top even further by winning the WTA Finals in her first appearance at the event. Barty had a roller-coaster ride through the group stage but still managed to top the red group. Barty started the event with a 3-set win over Belinda Bencic before losing from a set and a break up to Kiki Bertens. The Aussie secured her spot in the final 4 with a straight set win over Petra Kvitova before booking a spot in the final with a hard-fought 4-6 6-2 6-3 win over Karolina Pliskova.

Elina Svitolina heads into Sunday’s final in Shenzhen on an incredible 9-match winning streak at the WTA Finals. The defending champion has been in outstanding form all week, thriving on the grind on the slow courts in Shenzhen. Svitolina topped the purple group with straight set wins over Karolina Pliskova, Simona Halep and Sofia Kenin. The Ukrainian’s first lapse came in her semi-final victory over Belinda Bencic, Svitolina won via retirement 5-7 6-3 4-1. There was an element of luck to Svitolina’s win over Bencic but credit to Svitolina, she is in outstanding shape and simply incredibly tough to beat on this surface.

Svitolina has won all 5 of the previous matches between the pair. 3 of those victories were in straight sets and 4 of them were on hard courts. The most recent match between the pair was the closest Barty has come to victory, Svitolina required over 3 hours to claim a 7-6 5-7 6-4 win over the Aussie in Indian Wells earlier this year.

I have to side with Svitolina here. The head-to-head record does not lie. Svitolina has the clear edge in this match-up having won all 5 of their previous matches. Barty has admitted that Svitolina is her toughest opponent and it is easy to see why. It is incredibly tough for Barty to consistently hit through Svitolina, Svitolina is happy to engage in a scrap with Barty, the Ukrainian is consistent and disciplined and not afraid of the Barty backhand slice, Svitolina is happy to trade cross court over and over again with Barty and will come out on top more often than not. The slow hard courts in Shenzhen favour Svitolina in this match-up, expect the defending champion to be too solid on a surface that will allow her play this match on her terms.

Prediction: Elina Svitolina to defeat Ashleigh Barty in 2 sets

Ashleigh Barty vs. Karolina Pliskova, WTA Finals Shenzhen SF Preview

???? WTA Finals – Shenzhen SF #2 preview
?? (1) Ashleigh Barty vs. ?? (2) Karolina Pliskova

The top 2 players in the world will do battle in the second semi-final from Shenzhen as Ash Barty comes up against Karolina Pliskova. This is one of the tour’s most competitive match-ups, the pair have split their 4 tour level meetings and both will head into this match with confidence. Who will book their place in Sunday’s final at the WTA Finals Shenzhen?

Ash Barty has secured her spot as season ending number 1 and is now a few wins away from securing her first WTA Finals crown. Barty has probably secured her status as player of the year in 2019 and will certainly have that honour if she can go on to win the title this week. It has been an up and down week for Barty. The Aussie started the event with a comeback win over Belinda Bencic in 3 sets before succumbing to Kiki Bertens in 3 sets from a set and a break up. The Reigning Roland Garros champion secured her spot in the final 4 with a commanding straight set victory over Petra Kvitova to finish on top of the red group.

Karolina Pliskova is through to her third consecutive semi-final at the WTA Finals. Pliskova will be hoping it is a case of third time lucky as she aims to reach the final of the event for the first time at her third attempt. Pliskova’s week started in disappointment as she was beaten by Elina Svitolina in straight sets. Pliskova received a lifeline in her second group match when Bianca Andreescu retired injured. It was all or nothing for Pliskova and Simona Halep in the final match from the red group and it was Pliskova who came out on top 6-0 2-6 6-4.

Barty holds a slight 3-2 head-to-head record over Pliskova. The pair have split their last 4 meetings at the tour level, each match was reasonably tight. There has been at least 1 tiebreak set in 4 of their 5 matches and at least 1 close set in each match. It was Barty who emerged victorious in their most recent match, a 7-6 6-3 win for the Aussie in the Miami Open final earlier this year.

I’m going to side with Barty here. On a very slow court, the variety and consistency of Barty should give her the slight edge over Pliskova. The Barty slice could be especially troublesome for Pliskova on this surface, especially at the end of the season when footwork isn’t necessarily as sharp. Importantly, Barty can match the power and accuracy of Pliskova on serve, Barty’s return is slightly stronger and I would give the Aussie the edge in neutral baseline exchanges.

Prediction: Ashleigh Barty to defeat Karolina Pliskova in 3 sets

Ash Barty vs. Naomi Osaka, Shenzhen RR Preview

???? WTA Finals – Shenzhen RR preview
?? (1) Ashleigh Barty vs. ?? (3) Naomi Osaka

A blockbuster clash between Ash Barty and Naomi Osaka will kick-start singles play on Tuesday at the WTA Finals Shenzhen. Barty and Osaka both claimed hard-fought 3 set victories on day 1 of the tournament meaning the winner of this match will be the first to book a place in the semi-finals in Shenzhen.

Ashleigh Barty of Australia in action during her RR1 match 2019 WTA Finals tennis tournament

Ash Barty battled from a set down to defeat Belinda Bencic 5-7 6-1 6-2 in her debut match at the WTA Finals. Barty’s win over Bencic means that Barty will become the first Australian woman to become the season ending world number 1. Barty’s dominance behind serve was key to her win over Bencic, the Barty serve was broken just once as she hit 10 aces and won 82% of her first service points. A similar serving performance against Osaka will give the top seed a great chance of scoring another win.

Naomi Osaka was also forced to battle hard for her opening victory in Shenzhen, Osaka fended off a strong fightback from Petra Kvitova to secure a 7-6 4-6 6-4 victory. Osaka was strong behind her first serve where she hit 12 aces and won 72% of points. However, Osaka was broken on 5 occasions and was fairly inconsistent, the Japanese star will need to produce a tidier performance if she is to knock off the world number 1 on Tuesday.

Naomi Osaka of Japan in action during her RR1 match 2019 WTA Finals tennis tournament

The head-to-head record between the pair is split at 2 wins apiece. Osaka holds a 2-1 edge on hard courts and has won their 2 most recent matches on a hard court. Most recently Osaka defeated Barty 3-6 6-3 6-2 in the final of the China Open earlier this month.

This is a very tough match to predict, a match that could easily go either way between arguably the 2 strongest players over the last 16 months. I’m going to give the slight edge to Barty. The main reasons for siding with the Aussie is that her serve is slightly more secure and her versatility on a slow, low bouncing surface has the potentially to frustrate Osaka in what should be a tight match.

Prediction: Ash Barty to defeat Naomi Osaka in 3 sets

Ashleigh Barty vs. Belinda Bencic, Shenzhen RR Preview

???? WTA Finals – Shenzhen RR preview
?? (1) Ashleigh Barty vs. ?? (7) Belinda Bencic

Ash Barty and Belinda Bencic will go head-to-head for the first time as the pair kick-start their respective debut appearances at the season ending championships. Ash Barty may head into this tournament as the world number 1 but she will have her work cut out to live up to that ranking, Barty has a poor record against her fellow elite 8 members and will face a tough first-up test against an in-form Bencic.

Ash Barty arrives in Shenzhen fresh from a strong Asian Swing. Barty reached the semi-finals in Wuhan before making the final in Beijing. A lingering calf injury was the only major concern for Barty during the Asian swing but she has had some time off back at home before arriving in Shenzhen and should be ready to go come Sunday. Barty finished 2018 on a high by winner the Elite Trophy in Zhuhai so she does have some experience in this type of event despite this being her first showing at the WTA Finals.

Belinda Bencic just snuck into the 2019 WTA Finals at the last minute. Bencic secured her spot in Shenzhen last week by winning the Kremlin Cup in Moscow. Bencic claimed several hard-fought wins in Moscow under great pressure so she arrives in Shenzhen full of confidence and essentially with nothing to lose. Bencic may have been the last to qualify for the event but she is a contender, the Swiss player has a good record against her fellow elite 8 members and has always thrived when playing against the best.

Surprisingly this will be the first career meeting between Barty and Bencic.

I’m going to side with Bencic here. Bencic is battle hardened heading into this opening match having just won the Kremlin Cup a week ago, conversely Barty hasn’t completed a match in almost a month and may take a while to find her rhythm. Bencic has the consistent and efficient game to deal with the variety of Barty, If Bencic remains patient in the rallies and waits for her chance to pull the trigger up the line, she should be strong enough to get the better of the Aussie, especially on an indoor hard court.

Prediction: Belinda Bencic to defeat Ashleigh Barty in 3 sets

Ashleigh Barty vs. Lauren Davis, US Open R2 Preview

???? US OPEN, R2 match preview
?? (2) Ashleigh Barty vs. ?? Lauren Davis

The second seeded Ash Barty continues her US Open campaign on Wednesday with a second round clash against Lauren Davis. Barty will be hoping for an improved performance after she was forced to come from a set down against Zarina Diyas in her opening round match at Flushing Meadows. Davis will have other ideas and has proven to be a player capable of causing big upsets at majors.

Ash Barty made a less than convincing start to the final major of the season. The reigning Roland Garros champion was rusty in a 1-6 6-3 6-2 win over Kazakhstan’s Zarina Diyas. Barty arrived in New York fresh from a semi-final showing in Cincinnati where she also had to battle from a set down on multiple occasions, it’s good that the Aussie is able to come through these tough situations but she would certainly like to be playing better tennis.

Lauren Davis is through to the second round at the US Open for the third time in her 7th main draw appearance at the event. Davis has never made it past the second round in New York and will need to claim a huge upset win to change that in 2019. Davis started her campaign with a 7-5 6-2 win over Swedish qualifier Johanna Larsson but will face a far stronger challenge against the second ranked Ash Barty. Davis can take confidence from her big upset win over Angelique Kerber at Wimbledon earlier this year.

Barty won the only previous match between the pair, a 2-6 6-3 7-5 win in Acapulco in 2014. That win was considered an upset win for Barty, since then Barty is one of the most improved players on tour whilst Davis has made little ground.

I expect Barty to produce an improved performance here after a bit of a scare in her opening round match. This should be a comfortable match-up for Barty, the hard courts of New York suit Barty’s game perfectly and she has the game to handle Davis. Barty has the power to punish Davis and the versatility to unsettle the American. Barty is simply far more reliable and mentally tough.

Prediction: Ashleigh Barty to defeat Lauren Davis in 2 sets

Ashleigh Barty vs. Marketa Vondrousova, Roland Garros Final Preview

???? Roland Garros, Final Preview
?? (8) Ashleigh Barty vs. ?? Marketa Vondrousova

A new Grand Slam champion will be crowned on Saturday in Paris as the 8th seeded Ashleigh Barty takes on the unseeded Marketa Vondrousova in the 2019 Roland Garros championship match. Barty and Vondrousova will both be competing in their very first Grand Slam singles final, a huge opportunity for both players. It is Barty who heads into this match as the favourite to lift the trophy, Barty is the more experienced player, the higher ranked player and has won both of the previous matches between the pair, but don’t take Vondrousova lightly.

Ash Barty came through a rollercoaster semi-final against Amanda Anisimova to secure her spot in the final. Barty raced to a 5-0 lead in the first set before dropping 10 of the next 11 games to find her self down 6-7 0-3 and seemingly heading for the exit door. However, the Aussie showed true resilience to rebound against a fearless opponent and secure a famous 6-7 6-3 6-3 victory. Barty’s versatility has caused her opponents all types of problems all tournament, she truly is a unique player in the women’s game, Barty’s slice backhand is one of the best shots in the women’s game at the moment.

At just 19-years of age Marketa Vondrousova is through to a Grand Slam final. Vondrousova certainly doesn’t play like a teenager on court. The young Czech star has played with a maturity well beyond her years to reach Saturday’s final without dropping a single set all tournament. Vondrousova’s gutsy 7-5 7-6 semi-final win over Johanna Konta typified her strong character. Vondrousova trailed 3-5 in each set but never lost her cool and eventually wore down Konta with her relentless scrapping from the baseline. Like Barty, Vondrousova is a unique player, she has it all, power, outstanding defense, great touch and a very competent net game.

Barty holds a perfect 2-0 record over Vondrousova. The Aussie has won both of the previous matches between the pair in straight sets, 7-5 7-6 on the Nottingham grass in 2017 whilst more recently Barty claimed a 6-3 7-5 win on a hard court in Cincinnati late last year. This will be their first meeting on clay court and easily the biggest match of both players respective careers. Who will prevail?

To view my analysis / prediction for this match: Click here
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