2020 US OPEN – R1 preview + prediction: ??
?? (17) Angelique Kerber vs. ?? Ajla Tomljanovic
Angelique Kerber begins her 2020 US Open campaign with a potentially tricky opening round clash with Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic. Kerber will be looking to reverse a disappointing recent record at Flushing Meadows as she competes in her first tournament since the tour restart.
Kerber hasn’t enjoyed much success at Flushing Meadows since winning the US Open in 2016, the German has amassed a 2-3 win/loss record at the US Open over the last 3 years, including a pair of opening round exits, her least successful major over those 3 seasons. It’s hard to know what kind of level Kerber will bring into this tournament given she hasn’t played any matches since the Australian Open in January. Nevertheless, Kerber is always a threat at a major, she is a 3-time Grand Slam champion for a reason, not to be dismissed.
Tomljanovic was busy during the tour shutdown as she competed in a number of exhibition events with limited success. Tomljanovic has lost her first couple of matches since the tour restart, a straight set loss to Yulia Putintseva in Lexington, followed by a 3-set loss to Veronika Kudermetova at the Western & Southern Open. The Aussie has a poor record at Flushing Meadows having never progressed past the second round at the US Open. Tomljanovic has a poor record at Grand Slams in general, having only moved past the second round at a major on 1 occasion, all the way back in 2014 at Roland Garros when she reached the fourth round, a blight on the career of Tomljanovic.
Kerber cruised through the only previous meeting between the pair, a 6/3 6/2 win for the German at Roland Garros in 2015.
I’m going to side with Kerber here despite the German’s limited preparation for the event. Kerber is vastly more accomplished at major events, the German usually raises her level in these situations, whilst the opposite is the case for Tomljanovic. This is a good match-up for Kerber because Tomljanovic doesn’t have the raw power to consistently hit through the German and she doesn’t have the ability to consistently outlast Kerber from the baseline either. Kerber does most things better and should find a way through this one even if she is a little rusty.