The first batch of third round matches in Beijing will be played on Wednesday with the highlight being the night match between Caroline Wozniacki and Angelique Kerber. This will be the pair’s second match during the Asian Swing after Wozniacki scored her biggest win since May, beating Kerber, 6-2 2-6 6-3 in the quarter-finals of Tokyo. I was sad not to be able to preview that match as I am a big fan of Wozniacki-Kerber matches!
Both players have yet to drop a set at this year’s China Open en route to the third round. Kerber had a bye in the first round after reaching the semi-finals in Wuhan last week and comfortably saw off Dominika Cibulkova in the second round, 6-1 6-4. I expected a much closer match but Kerber was rolling, levelling up the head-to-head with a fourth consecutive victory over Cibulkova. Kerber played an aggressive match by her standards and forced Cibulkova into making errors. There was a small hiccup at the end as Cibulkova won three games on the trot to get back to 4-5 in the second set. Kerber twice failed to serve out the match but refocused to break to love in the final game.
Wozniacki has wavered a tad in her first two rounds; in the first round, she was in complete control against Bojana Jovanovski, up 6-2 5-0 and executing a perfect gameplan by keeping the rallies long and forcing the error. However, similar to Wuhan where she was unable to hold onto a big lead in her first match against Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, Wozniacki struggled to get across the finish line. This time round, Wozniacki managed to get the win, fending off an improved second set showing by Jovanovski to win, 6-2 6-4. In the second round, her opponent, Qiang Wang served for the first set. Rather surprisingly, Wang led the head-to-head, 1-0 after winning in Kuala Lumpur in 2013 but Wozniacki levelled it up, coming back to win in straights, 7-5 6-0.
Wozniacki and Kerber will meet for the 12th time in a colourful head-to-head that has seen a different player win the last four times. Kerber leads the head-to-head 6-5 with the pair splitting their matches in 2015. Wozniacki prevailed in Tokyo but Kerber won earlier this year in Stuttgart, a cracking finale that went right down to the wire. Kerber won the last four games, bossing her way to the title with a 3-6 6-1 7-5. victory. Five of their last seven matches have gone the distance and i’d expect the same here with little to call between the pair.
I think Kerber will edge this one…
Prediction: Kerber d. Wozniacki in 3 sets