???? US OPEN, R1 match preview
?? (14) Angelique Kerber vs. ?? Kristina Mladenovic
Angelique Kerber will kick-start her 2019 US Open campaign with a first round clash against France’s Kristina Mladenovic. Kerber arrives in New York in the midst of a form slump, Kerber has lost 3 consecutive matches and hasn’t won a match on a hard court since Monterrey in April. Nevertheless, Kerber is a former US Open champions, a 3-time Grand Slam singles champion and former world number 1, she is still one of the major threats at this years championships in New York.
Angelique Kerber will fancy her chances against Kristina Mladenovic but will need to improve on her recent form to contend for the title at Flushing Meadows. Kerber hasn’t won a match since her shock second round exit at Wimbledon at the hands of Lauren Davis where she was defending the title. The Us Open series hasn’t gone to plan for Kerber who was beaten by Daria Kasatkina in 3 sets at the Rogers Cups, more recently the German was beaten by Anett Kontaveit in straight sets in Cincinnati. Kerber has shown in the past that she can regain her form at a major, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see that happen over the next few weeks.
Kristina Mladenovic also arrives in New York fresh from back-to-back opening round losses in Toronto and Cincinnati. Mladenovic has somewhat turned into a double specialist in 2019, it is on the doubles court where Mladenovic enjoys far more success. On the singles court, Mladenovic’s weaknesses are frequently exposed. Unfrequently for Mladenovic, Kerber looms as an opponent that will not have a hard time exposing the Mladenovic weaknesses.
Kerber holds a 4-1 head-to-head record over Mladenovic, the German has won all 4 of the previous meetings between the pair on a hard court, including a commanding 6-2 6-2 victory in Beijing last year in what was their most recent clash.
Despite her recent poor form, I don’t see Kerber having many problems in this match-up. Kerber is simply too solid for Mladenovic, especially on a hard court. Kerber’s has no problems picking on the Mladenovic backhand, she can expose Mladenovic’s backhand from anywhere in the court, Kerber’s defense also causes Mladenovic all types of problems, Kerber is one of the best players on tour at playing passing shots which takes away one of Mladenovic’s greatest assets. Furthermore, Kerber’s strong return of serve will likely cause the extremely vulnerable Mladenovic serve to crumble.