Australian Open QF: (14) Victoria Azarenka vs (7) Angelique Kerber
Victoria Azarenka and Angelique Kerber will renew hostilities on Wednesday when they collide at the quarter-final stage of the Australian Open. These two have built up quite a rivalry over the last couple of years, however Kerber is still searching for her first career victory over the Belarusian. Azarenka enters this clash in superb form, whilst Kerber also seems to be peaking at the right stage of the tournament, this should be another great match between the pair.
Azarenka has made a perfect start to 2016, claiming the title at the Brisbane International without dropping a set and storming through the opening fourth rounds at Melbourne Park without dropping a set. The two-time former champion seems to be playing at a level similar level of tennis to the times that she was at the top of her game and at world number 1 in the world.
Azarenka has dropped just 12 games in her opening four matches in Melbourne. The Belarussian has recorded commanding straight set victories over Alison Van Uytvank, Danka Kovinic, Naomi Osaka and Barbora Strycova. Azarenka’s biggest test came in her fourth round clash with an in form Barbora Strycova, the Czech threw everything she had at Azarenka, the former number 1 was able to overcome the challenge quite convincing to record a 6-2 6-4 victory. Azarenka will enter the quarter-final stage full of confidence but also knowing that Kerber will be toughest opponent yet.
Angelique Kerber will enter her first ever quarter-final at Melbourne Park feeling as though she has nothing to lose. The German survived an almighty scare in the opening round where she survived a match point on route to defeating Misaki Doi in 3 sets. Since that match Angie has been relatively untroubled, recording straight set victories over Alexandra Dulgheru, Madison Brengle and Annika Beck.
This has been a very troublesome match-up for Angie, the German has been unable to defeat Vika in six previous attempts. Azarenka has won four of those matches in straight sets, including a convincing 6-3 6-1 victory in the final at the Brisbane International a couple of weeks ago. Kerber has been close to beating Azarenka on several occasions but has just fallen short on each occasion, firstly in a three set epic at the WTA Finals in Istanbul back in 2012 and also in a classic three set encounter at the U.S Open last year where Azarenka won 7-5 2-6 6-4.
Kerber has stated that she will try a new approach against Azarenka in this match as looks to claim her first win over Azarenka. There is no doubt that Azarenka’s form is greater heading into this match, Azarenka has barely been challenged at any stage this year and she a clear physiological edge over Kerber given the head-to-head record.
Nevertheless, I expect this to be a really close match and honestly think that it could easily go either way. I do believe that Kerber is capable of beating Azarenka, it will take an almighty performance but she is capable of producing a very high level. All the pressure is on Azarenka heading into this match whilst Kerber will actually feel as though she has nothing to lose having already produced her best even run at the event and knowing that she could have easily lost in the first round. I’m going to go for another upset here, I think there are still holes in Azarenka’s game that can be exposed, Angie has to eventually beat Victoria.