Tied at 2-2 in their head-to-head, Angelique Kerber and Carla Suárez Navarro will not only be fighting for a lead in the match-up, but a place in a first Brisbane International final. The Spaniard, Suárez Navarro, toughed out a topsy-turvy encounter with Varvara Lepchenko in the quarter-finals, 4-6 6-4 7-5, coming through in two hours and 42 minutes. While Lepchenko survived a marathon nine-deuce game at 4-4 to go within one game of the match, Suárez Navarro was the more stable player with the American player producing a string of costly mistakes towards the end. The win brought back memories from last year where Suárez Navarro toughed out so many three setters; the Spaniard went 16-4 in three set matches between Brisbane and Rome and is already 2-0 for 2016.
Kerber continued her impressive start to the year by reaching her first Brisbane International semi-final in four attempts. It wasn’t a peak performance but she was still very efficient in overcoming a player always capable of producing an upset in Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in straight sets. What was most impressive to me was how Kerber closed out both sets with some big serves. This hasn’t always been the case for the German player who can get tight on occasion. This time round, she looked confident and served out the match in convincing fashion to love. While the second serve remains an area of weakness, her first serve was decent and movement remains as sharp as ever.
Head-to-head record: Suárez Navarro beat Kerber in their last encounter on clay in Stuttgart in 2014; however, Kerber has won their last two matches on hard courts in Linz (6-2 6-0, 2013) and Sydney (6-2 6-4, 2014).
Interesting stat: In Brisbane, Suárez Navarro has won back-to-back completed matches for the first time since June last year in Birmingham. It’s her best result since the start of May where she reached the final in Rome.
Analysis: This match will most likely depend on Suárez Navarro’s recovery after such a gruelling match. The head-to-head is close and the Spaniard shouldn’t be written off just yet as tight wins like the one against Lepchenko can be real confidence boosters. However, i’d go for Kerber, who has looked in encouraging form, particularly in the last two rounds. Kerber has looked very assured and capable of raising her level much higher if required.
Prediction: Kerber d. Suárez Navarro in 3 sets