Australian Open Final: (1) Serena Williams vs (7) Angelique Kerber
Serena Williams is now just one win away from winning her 22nd Grand Slam title and her 7th Australian Open title. The world number 1 will come up against first time Grand Slam finalist Angelique Kerber on Saturday night in the 2016 Australian Open final. On paper this looks like a massive mismatch given Serena’s incredible record at this stage of Grand Slams, However Angie is not without a chance, it will be interesting to see how far Angie can push Serena, could the German cause a massive upset?
Serena Williams enters her 26th Grand Slam final in ominous form. The World number 1 has not dropped a set on route to the final and seems to be getting better and better every match. Serena started the event with reasonably comfortable straight set victories over Camila Giorgi, Su-Wei Hsieh, Daria Kasatkina and Margarita Gasparyan, The American barely raised a sweat in any of those matches and has certainly upped her level in the later stages of the tournament.
Serena’s latest two victories are where she has made her biggest statement, once again reminding the world that she is clearly the number 1 player in the world. Serena crushed Maria Sharapova 6-4 6-1 in the quarter-finals before producing her best tennis of the tournament thus far in a 6-0 6-4 demolition of Agnieszka Radwanska in the semi-finals. The American’s first set of tennis in her semi-final win over Radwanska was probably the best set of tennis anyone has played all year; Serena was playing at a level that simply cannot be matched by anyone on tour. If Serena produces a similar level of tennis on Saturday, she will be almost impossible to beat.
For a third year in a row a finalist at the Australian Open has saved a match point in an earlier round. Angelique Kerber saved a match in her opening round match against Misaki Doi and hasn’t looked back since. The German has not dropped a set since her first round scare, recording straight set victories over Alexandra Dulgheru, Madison Brengle, Annika Beck, Victoria Azarenka and Johanna Konta. Angie’s 6-3 7-5 quarter-final victory over Victoria Azarenka was her most notable victory of the week and perhaps one of the most notable victories of her career. Angie backed up that victory very professionally with a comfortable semi-final win over Johanna Konta.
Serena Williams holds a 5-1 head-to-head record over Angelique Kerber. The world number 1 has won the four most recent encounters between the pair, all in straight sets. The most recent clash came in the final at Stanford back in 2014, Serena won a tight opening set before running away with the match to claim a 7-6 6-3 victory. Angie’s only career victory over Serena was back in 2012 in Cincinnati where she won 6-4 6-4. Angie will need to produce a stunning performance if she is to replicate that victory on Saturday night.
Serena is the clear favourite heading into this match for numerous reasons. Firstly, Serena is clearly far more experienced at this stage of a Grand Slam and she often saves her best tennis for Grand Slam finals. Serena has a 21-4 record in Grand Slam finals. Secondly, Serena’s form heading into the final is ominous, the world number 1 hasn’t dropped a set all tournament and has played her best tennis in the two matches leading up to the final.
Angelique Kerber is unlikely to be a pushover, the German is also heading into the final playing great tennis and will enter this match feeling as though she has nothing to lose given the odds are clearly not in her favour. Angie does have the ability to compete with Serena, that has been clear in their most recent clashes however what is also clear is that Angie doesn’t have the firepower to trouble Serena when she is at her best. Angie’s serve is going to be a real problem in this match-up and her hesitancy to come forward is also a problem in this match-up. I suspect Serena will ultimately be too good in a reasonably tight match. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Angie win a set and she isn’t without a chance to cause an upset.