Less than a month ago, everyone was selling their shares in Angelique Kerber following a rough run that saw her win just two WTA singles matches in the space of six tournaments. Heading into Stuttgart, there was renewed optimism surrounding Kerber after she reignited her year with a title run in Charleston, coming back from all kinds of deficits in several matches, including in the final where she edged Madison Keys in three sets. In a stellar second round match-up, Kerber takes on the number one seed, Maria Sharapova in Thursday’s marquee match at not before 6.30pm local time in Stuttgart.
Kerber continued her upturn in form with a straight sets win over Alexa Glatch in her first rounder in Stuttgart, 6-2 7-5. Sharapova had a bye in the first round and has been rather quiet of late, spending some time on the sidelines with a foot injury. Much like last year, she didn’t perform well during the Indian Wells-Miami double. Sharapova lost to Flavia Pennetta in the fourth round of Indian Wells, 3-6 6-3 6-2 and in her first match in Miami to Daria Gavrilova, 7-6(4) 6-3. Both results could be linked to the injury, which saw her pull out Fed Cup action and only return to training very recently in the last week or so.
Sharapova leads Kerber 4-2 in the head-to-head; their match from Stuttgart in 2012 was a topsy-turvy affair which saw Sharapova go for a mid-match walkabout but bring it back to win the last eight points of the match and prevail, 7-5 in the decider. Kerber has two wins over Sharapova including her greatest triumph in their last match at Wimbledon in 2014. Kerber produced a stunning performance to take out Sharapova in three gruelling sets, 7-6(4) 4-6 6-4. There’s bound to be some rust from Sharapova, but it will still require a really superb performance from Kerber to take out the Stuttgart queen. I have a feeling this is going to be mega…
Prediction: Sharapova d. Kerber in 3 sets