Monday’s second singles match features the number four seed, Petra Kvitova against the number six seed, Angelique Kerber at not before 7.30pm local time. While all the matches are pivotal, this one feels especially crucial for the white group in what will be a first Kerber-Kvitova clash in 2015.
After being an alternate for the first year in Singapore, Kerber sealed her place as part of the top eight after a rollercoaster year that featured so many twists and turns. Beginning with the positives, Kerber won four Premier titles on four different surfaces, winning all four finals deep in a third set. It was such a sharp contrast to 2014 where she went 0-4 in WTA finals. Kerber has been involved in many of the memorable matches of 2015, some win and some lose. Kerber’s done well to qualify considering she failed to reach the second week of any of the four Grand Slams. The last three Slams saw Kerber come up against stiff opposition in the third round, losing out to Garbiñe Muguruza (X2) and Victoria Azarenka. It does though present opportunities next year for Kerber’s ranking. It’s also easy to forget that Kerber began the year in a miserable run of form which she snapped out of in Charleston.
Kvitova’s year has been equally eventful; the former Wimbledon champion took some time out during Indian Wells and Miami due to tiredness/fatigue and then later revealed after Wimbledon where she experienced her toughest loss of the year to Jelena Jankovic, that she had been diagnosed with Mononucleosis. It’s still having an impact on Kvitova’s energy levels but she appears to be on the mend and *hopefully* will be back to full fitness for 2016. It’s a superb achievement that Kvitova managed to qualify for the WTA Finals considering the year she has had.
Two dazzling title runs in Madrid and New Haven were classic Petra, and they were supported by significantly improved performances at the French Open and the US Open where she reached the second week at both. The Asian Swing wasn’t so successful with just one win compared to the nine she achieved last year. An early loss to Sara Errani in Beijing was a disappointing result but it has given her plenty of time to prepare for Singapore. Last year, Kvitova failed to qualify from her round robin group, beating Maria Sharapova in straight sets, but losing out to Agnieszka Radwanska and Caroline Wozniacki.
Kvitova leads Kerber in the head-to-head, 4-2. Kerber’s two wins both came in her breakthrough year of 2012 in Rome (7-6(2) 1-6 6-1) and Cincinnati (6-1 2-6 6-4). Kvitova won their last match which came on an insanely quick court in the Fed Cup final where Kvitova brought her team home with a 7-6(5) 4-6 6-4 victory. Kerber showed such incredible spirit after missing multiple set points in the first set but Kvitova’s weapons helped her prevail in what was a tremendous match. Anything close to the standard in that match will be an absolute treat.
I wasn’t convinced about Kvitova on this slow indoor court in Singapore last year but I think she can hit through it if she’s on song. Kerber’s only ever won one match at the WTA Finals and she’ll know deep down that if Kvitova brings her A-game, there’s not a great deal she can do. Furthermore, Kerber has had just a week to recover from a back injury that affected her in the Hong Kong final last weekend. While she’s found her rhythm in recent weeks, I worry that the fatigue from the season may catch up with her. This is a tough one… i’m surprising myself by siding with Kerber. In my opinion, Kvitova will have to play a high quality and consistent match and there’s too many question marks for me right now.
Hope it’s a great one!
Prediction: Kerber d. Kvitova in 3 sets