One of most underrated matches of the year at number 6 is a second round Wimbledon match between Kaia Kanepi and Angelique Kerber. On my first day of holiday during Wimbledon, this was one of the first matches I watched and it was one that fully captivated my attention. Kanepi has always been billed as a dangerous player, one that can throw a spanner in the works against any member of the top 10, but particularly on the grass where her weapons are even potent. Every now and then you get a match where both players are playing insanely well and this was one of those matches.
Kanepi started the match in fine form to go up 3-0, but was quickly pegged back by Kerber, who hit a game of winners to level up at 3-3. It was the German player who maintained a consistently high level to take the first set, 6-3. The second set was very even with both players continuing the trends of points being finished with winners rather than errors. In fact, this match had one of the best winner to unforced error ratios I saw all year as Kanepi hit 52 winners to 27 unforced errors, meanwhile Kerber hit 42 winners to just 17 unforced errors. The set deservedly went to a tiebreak where Kerber raced into a 5-1 lead. Surprisingly though, Kanepi, who has never really been known as a mentally tough player or one that fights to the death, staged an unlikely comeback and won 7 of the next 8 points to force a decider.
The missed chances seemed to throw Kerber off her game and she struggled to keep a cool head in the decider as Kanepi’s powerful strokes and pin point accuracy saw her race into a 5-1 third set lead. There was a good old fashion wobble from the Estonian, who got extremely tight serving the match out. She double faulted twice on match point, but showed real nerve to finish the match off.
I read that Kerber received death threats on her Facebook page after this match, which was absolutely disgusting. She did become a little passive in the decider and obviously had her chances at 5-1 in the second set tiebreak, but her level of tennis was incredibly high. This was certainly one of those matches that wouldn’t have been top of many people’s priority to watch, but those who did, witnessed a treat. A brilliant contest.