Women’s Australian Open 2016 Final Preview: Serena Williams v Angelique Kerber

 

Serena Williams

While Serena Williams will be contending her 26th Grand Slam singles final on Saturday in Melbourne, her opponent, Angelique Kerber, will be playing her very first. It all could have been so different… in her very first match of the tournament, Kerber was on the brink of defeat, staring down a match point against Misaki Doi. Kerber somehow scrapped through that match and has since enjoyed a relatively routine run to the final, not dropping a set. When a player can survive such a match, it can often make them stronger in the tournament. The last three Australian Open finals have featured a player who saved match point(s) on their route through the draw (h/t to @KateSomeWrit on Twitter).

Kerber’s previous best at the Slams were semi-final showings at the US Open (l. to Sam Stosur, 2011) and Wimbledon (l. to Agnieszka Radwanska, 2012). The difference this time round against Johanna Konta is that she was the clear favourite by ranking. There were question marks of whether she could deal with this kind of pressure but Kerber played a very solid match, hitting few winners (14) but even fewer unforced errors (11) to win, 7-5 6-2. Kerber lost an early double break in the first set and was down *4-5 on serve but she handled the occasion well and held it together at the end of the first set. While Kerber wasn’t as aggressive as she was against Azarenka, she did all she needed to do to get the win. While the Brit gave it her best shot, 36 unforced errors were her undoing.

After defeating Maria Sharapova for the 18th consecutive time, Serena Williams went into her semi-final match against Agnieszka Radwanska having won all eight previous occasions. The world number one continued her sweep through the draw, producing another winner-laden performance to beat Radwanska, 6-0 6-4. Serena hit 42 (!) to 17 unforced errors and dropped just three points on her first serve throughout the entire match. While Serena won three of the four Grand Slams in 2015, she came through her fair share of nailbiters with 11 of her 26 victories coming in three sets. In this first Slam, it has been pretty much plain sailing for the American player and she’s been so much sharper following a much-needed break from the tour after last year’s US Open semi-final loss to Roberta Vinci.

Serena’s draw path: The world number one has yet to drop a set all week. Opening with her toughest match of the week based on the scoreline, Serena’s route through the draw has seen her secure wins over Camila Giorgi (6-4 7-5), Su-Wei Hsieh (6-1 6-2), Daria Kasatkina (6-1 6-1), Margarita Gasparyan (6-2 6-1), Maria Sharapova (6-4 6-1) and Agnieszka Radwanska (6-0 6-4).

Angie’s draw path: After saving a match point to defeat Misaki Doi in a first round, 6-7(4) 7-6(6) 6-3 victory, Kerber has followed it up with victories over Alexandra Dulgheru (6-2 6-4), Madison Brengle (6-1 6-3), Annika Beck (6-4 6-0), Victoria Azarenka (6-3 7-5) and Johanna Konta (7-5 6-2).

Tweets and videos:

Head-to-head record: Serena leads Kerber, 5-1 in their head-to-head. Kerber’s lone win came in Cincinnati in 2012, 6-4 6-4. While Serena was well below par on that day, Kerber did well to close both sets out which is never a given against Serena. Their most recent match in Stanford in 2014 saw Serena win in straight sets, 7-6(1) 6-3. Kerber had led 5-1 in the first set before Serena launched a stirring comeback.

Interesting stats about Serena: Serena’s last three Grand Slam finals have all been against first-time Grand Slam finalists having played Muguruza at Wimbledon and Safarova at the French Open. Serena’s record in Grand Slam finals is pretty impeccable and she has won her last eight Slam finals; the last loss came against Sam Stosur at the US Open back in 2011.

Analysis: As i’ve written before on numerous occasions, it’s always an unknown factor how a player competing in their first Grand Slam final will deal with the occasion. For Kerber, she will have to go above and beyond to compete with an in-form Serena; a quick start and getting that first game and first hold on the board will be huge. If Kerber can settle, she can certainly cause problems for Serena. The concern would be if the nerves take hold and prevent her from playing the game she wants and knows she has to play. Sitting back and playing passively will not get the job done against Serena. First serves are also key as the second serve will be very vulnerable to attack. The German player will need to improve on the 54% first serve percentage from the match against Konta.

While Serena continues to vocalise her “nothing to lose” attitude, she will still go in as the clear favourite and with pressure on her shoulders. Serena will be going for Grand Slam #22 and attempting to go level with Steffi Graf. Serena has had a few recent situations in Grand Slam finals where she has wobbled in a winning position; for example, the French Open final last year where she led by a set and a double break on Safarova but needed three sets. If she does have a lull, Kerber is more than capable of taking advantage.

My big hope for this match is that Kerber is able to settle quickly because if she can, I think this *could* be a great final. While I will be cheering for Kerber all the way, i’m going for Serena to prevail in two tight sets.

Photo in this post by Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

53 thoughts on “Women’s Australian Open 2016 Final Preview: Serena Williams v Angelique Kerber

  1. Fun Fact,Kerber is the first lefty to reach the AO final since Monica Seles in 1996

    My pick was Serena before the tournament started,Serena to level with Graff with 22 Grand Slam titles and her 7th AO title.

    I hope this is a competitive final,Kerber needs to play offensive tennis,not slip back into her old ways of waiting for her opponent’s errors.

    Good luck to both players.

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  2. I’m so happy!!!! just gonna enjoy the final and hope Angie is playing her very best tennis so that we can watch a competitve final. Cheering for Angie obviously but I know that Serena played really really well throughout the tournament. so my heart says Angie but my head says Serena.

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  3. To me, Serena made a very mature, healthy, careful, wise decision to take the rest of the year off from the 2015 US Open last year to help her body get better for the Australian Open this year. She has been looking solid from start to finish, being the only player to have not dropped a set in the tournament. Her match stats are extremely clean with 46 aces, 10 double faults, 164 winners, and 98 unforced errors. Serena has also averaged 72.6% of first serves in and has served no more than three double faults throughout her matches. But despite getting 74.4% of first serves in, Kerber’s match stats are 15 aces, 14 double faults, 147 winners, and 115 unforced errors. Also, the number of double faults that Kerber has served throughout the tournaments seems to have fluctuated. She has been serving more double faults than aces in her matches, unlike Serena. Kerber has 17 more unforced errors and 4 more double faults in her match stats. This match seems to be more in favor of Serena, as she had a day off in between to rest for all of her matches. But, Kerber had to play her quarterfinal and semi-final matches back-to-back on Tuesday and Wednesday. Serena already said that that Kerber has beaten her before. So, she is very aware of Kerber’s game and will come out on top with her solid A game. Kerber will try to put up a good fight. But based on the match stats and Serena leading Kerber 5-1 in their head-to-head matches, I am predicting Serena to win this match in two sets with the scoreline being either 6-3 6-0, 6-3 6-4, 6-3 7-5, 6-1 6-1, or 6-1 6-2 and this will most likely be the first time that Serena wins the 2016 Australian Open without dropping a set.

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  4. Easy pick before the start of the tournament. No ones can challenge Serena just like Djokovic. However, I really wish Kerber can win a slam (at least) after Serena era.

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    • Kerber played great against VIKA , but Vika played terrible. She did not played like how she played Serena at Wimbledon. Her serve and ground strokes were below par.

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  5. James always cheering against Serena in the finals. Serena will be of the tour soon, so she needs to get all that she can get now. Kerber, Lucie, Garbine and the rest of them will be fighting for majors next year. Serena and Roger will probably hang around for 1 more year.

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      • If Serena can get to 22 on Saturday, she will have no problem whatsoever getting to 24 or beyond Margaret Court’s record. She’s more relaxed and her game is much better from start to finish.

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      • Steffi’s record is the real deal, in my opinion. Margaret’s is arguable, given the circumstance. Once she equals Steffi she is the Queen of Tennis in the Open era. I think discounting her doubles and mixed doubles titles in the grand scheme of things is an insult to the game of tennis. In that sense, I think Navratilova should be..emm… the “Queen Mother of Tennis” ?.

        A bit silly but, should Serena go on to the senior tour next year or Legends and dominates there too..surely she can’t be denied the title of Mother of all WTA tennis. In her current form, will she be even welcome there, might just make a mockery of the other women.

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      • You are right. With due respect, Margaret Court won several Australian Open championships before the tournament was admitted or recognised as a Grand Slam tournament. During that time, the Australian Open was participated by local players only. If Serena gets to 23 grand slam titles, she should be undisputed GOAT on this planet. Personally, I think she is the GOAT at this moment before breaking the records further.

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    • I don’t see any sign that Serena’s planning to retire; she’s certainly poo-pooed the suggestion when it has been put to her in interviews.

      Martina Navratilova was still entering Wimbledon when she was 39, and Serena could easily do the same.

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  6. Kerber needs to cut down on her unforced errors and improve her serves. The number of double faults she has served in the tournament has fluctuated and she has more double faults than aces in her match stats. There is a -17 difference between her’s and Serena’s unforced errors. Not only that, Serena already warned the press not to underestimate Kerber and Serena is not underestimating anyone anymore, including Kerber. That’s why I’m picking Serena to win this championship in two sets.

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    • Agree. I think the match can go 3 setters, too. Aga did give Serena some problems during the second match. Obviously, Kerber has more powers than Aga. If Serena slips a few games, it could be 3 setters. However, Serena will still win the title.

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  7. In regards to Margaret Court’s record of 24 GS titles,I have met Margaret personally at a luncheon,which Ken Rosewall holds every year at NSW Tennis.You can’t compare era’s it is not Margaret’s fault played in that era,also with different rackets,Look what Rod Laver did,in his era? Court has 62 GS titles to her name.from memory,24 GS singles,the rest is made up of GS doubles titles and GS Mixed Doubles Titles.
    By the way Margaret was left handed and chose to play right handed,same as Ken Rosewell,I asked her at the luncheon,’In hindsight would you have still chosen to play left handed? she answered No,I believe I would have won more titles left handed’…Margaret was lifting weights with men in her day,unheard of,she was a very strong athlete.She left the tour to have her child,came back and got the top ranked spot back.

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      • The physical demands of the game TODAY almost make a mockery of the way women played tennis back in Margaret Court’s day. But is that fair to past players? I can’t answer this question.

        On the other hand, the tennis racquet technology evolved from different periods to meet the competitiveness of tennis requirements. I am sure female players in the open era are physically stronger than those in 1968, therefore, technology helps the weaker players to absorb powers from power hitters.

        I strongly that Margaret Court’s achievements were remarkable. However, she is only one of the greatest tennis players but not THE Greatest. If Serena manages to hit 24 GS or pass 24 GS, she will be the undisputed GOAT. In this case, we can stop talking about the open era or pre-open era issues.

        What is the point of comparing doubles and mixed doubles results when this is not individual achievements?

        I am sure Serena can achieve as many doubles or mixed doubles GS titles if she wants to.

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      • I feel doubles and mixed doubles shows that even though a player is highly effective as an individual(mindset) they can equally adjust to being part of a team. That is to say, they are capable of tempering their personal ambitions for the tenets of team work. It is something all seasoned doubles players will tell you, the thinking changes when you have to play doubles. And it is still the game of tennis.
        I do have my nitpicks about several aspects of the game, but doubles is alright by me. That is why I do enjoy the FED cup and Davis Cup matches too.

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      • Let’s play you are right. Margaret court achieved her mixed doubles and doubles in the pre-open era were not fair to be included for the count of her greatness. Serena Williams and Court are great in a different era. I watched Margaret Court’s video. She might be better than Martina but certainly not Steffi Graft.

        Many people just keep it quiet to show respects to these great players. Deep down, Serena is the GOAT. I don’t think Court could win so many GS titles if she plays in this era. The competitiveness is so much difference – power and athleticism.

        Everyone has his/her own opinion. Case closed.

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    • In my opinion Court was a better player than Martina or Steffi. She had a HUGE game. Go watch the videos and the power she has compared to the other players is undeniable and thats with the old racquets.
      If the Aus Open had been a proper Slam, she’d still have won all those titles. She was the first to do the Calender Slam in the Open era and she has more Slams in all mediums than anybody else. Not to mention her winning % is still untouched.

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      • Thank you andremarkpt Frank needs to go and have a look at the video’s of Margaret Court’s game full stop,
        I have watched the game of tennis for over 35 years.I too used a wooden racquet and have now changed to a smaller power racquet which gives you more power Full Stop.In Margaret’s Court era players played Mixed Doubles and Doubles in Grand Slams,not like the players do in the Open Era.Serena will not ever achieve the stats in Mixed Doubles or Doubles,like Margaret Court or Martina Navrartilova.I firmly believe if Serena stays focused and healthy she will surpass Margaret Court’s GS Singles Title of 24.

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      • I think Serena and Venus could well get their doubles figures up there if they chose to. I hope they do, when they retire from Singles matches.

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      • Maybe, but scheduling on tour and all the attendant logistics, too much work to achieve such feats I feel. Surely they could add some more doubles titles, their talent and fight is capable. I just feel it was much easier in bygone decades. Who knows..Serena is still winning now.

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  8. Some facts and stats regarding the final between Serena v Kerber

    Serena is trying to tie in the Open Era for most Grand Slam Titles of 22,currently held by Graf.Margaret Court holds the all time record for most Grand Slam Titles with 24.

    Kerber will be No 2 in the world if she wins.As runner up Kerber will be ranked No 4.

    Serena has more Grand Slam titles since turning 30 than anyone.Serena has 8 titles since turning 30,if she wins today,Serena will have 9 GS titles as a thirty-something.Court and Navratilova are tied for next -most wins with 3 majors apiece.

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    • It’s actually that last statement that I find remarkable, because the quality and strength of her game at her age is so good that, you cannot even argue that she is taking some ‘newbie’s ‘ place by being on the tour let alone being number 1 as some said of Navratilova when she had some poor results on her return. Much was said by some Of Kimiko Date-Krumm as well. When people speak of Serena’s power, I always tell them to find out about Margaret Court, they would release nothing is new underneath the sun.

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  9. Andrewmarket Well that remains to be seen if Serena and Venus can surpass Court or even Navtatilova’s great record in Doubles or even Mixed Doubles,personally speaking I dont think so.Martina won a Mixed Doubles title in her 50’s with Leaner Peas and also one of the Bryan Brothers.

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  10. For what it,s worth, by the time Margaret Court was Serena’s age she had been married for 8 years, had 3 children, was soon to have a 4th and had finished with grand slam singles.

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  11. Credit to Kerber in the first set,she just left off where she had defeated Azarenka,Serena to me was tight,her serve was missing,and too many UFE,Kerber deserved to win the first set,considering it is her firsr GS final,she appeared cool and calm.Kerber 1st set 64 in just 39 mins

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  12. All hail to Angie Kerber who played a great match from start to finish,she attacked Serena’s fhand and also attacked Serena’s 2nd serve with great results,she was also focused,even though she lost the 2nd set,she remained calm,well done Kerber your deserved your 1st GS title! I believe somewhere Steffi Graf is smiling:)

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      • Just amazing. Amazing. Struggling to process it all haha. When Kerber started crying at the end, I was gone! She played an incredible final and Serena was extremely classy at the end. Wow!

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      • She got me too, and well deserved. She played great and importantly stayed alert and took advantage of Serena’s lapses. Good, good win. I’m now waiting for Aga, I feel she should have a chance at this special “feels” as well.

        Serena was quite classy about Kerber at the presser yesterday as well. After taking out Vika she’s earned it. She said the press should stop discounting Angie cause she was in it with a chance too.

        Angelique Kerber! Waited for so long! I hope Caroline takes note too, and does what is required. Serena isn’t done yet, at least I hope not. I predicted at the start of the year that she will get Wimbers, and USopen. I hope she does.

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    • This sounds like a commentary to me. The commentary teams always win. They started predicting Serena to win. When they see the scores, they change their minds again.

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  13. People predicted Serena in 2 then what…….! Ha ha ha…that is why women tennis is so fascinating and fun.

    I really hope Serena to lift the trophy and later break the records but Kerber first GS is so delighted too. Ahhh..I guess I make some good money tonight by betting 2-1 both ways to console myself.

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    • Serena will still win some gram slams in near future and obviously will break records. She didn’t play her best today. So much unforced errors, just few ACE, first serve not getting in. Serena really played below her level.

      I just believe Kerber has been destined to win the match.

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  14. So happy Kerber won. At least, this victory would probably send a message to some people who keep saying Women Tennis is weak just because Serena is dominating.

    Every player is playing at higher level and unbelievably. So much varieties of styles in women game from great attacking style to excellent defence, beautiful volley etc.

    I still don’t know what some people are expecting these hard working women to do by calling this era a ‘weak era’.

    I can tell you Djokovic vs Murray match won’t be more entertaining.
    Say no to hate! Appreciate pure talent!

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  15. How did Serena play? Im in work so had to score watch. Was she sluggish or nervous?
    Im absolutely stunned by the result but Serena looked so gracious in the photos Ive seen.

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    • first set wasn’t really good. Angie fully took advantage. second was raised level and quite good by Serena. third was good from both and one essential break of serve at 3:2 with Kerber hitting stunnig drop shots. there wasn’t a thing Serena could do about. All in all a VERY entertaining match. Serena didn’t play her A-game but she wasnt bad either. it was Angie winning it.

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    • She didn’t play her best today. So much unforced errors, just few ACE, first serve not getting in at all, multiple missed oopportunities. Serena really played below her level, numerous double fault.

      Her unforced errors today were worst than Madison Key’s.

      Meanwhile, Kerber played so well. Credit to her for amazing match.

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    • It was exactly my reply to you a day ago about Angie having to be Angie and then some, that is stay alert, and take advantage of Serena’s openings. It wasn’t the unplayable Serena, a bit tight here and there, but Angie was focused played a mature game. Three good sets, Kudos to Kerber.

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  16. I’m in absolutely shocked. Cannot believe it – so happy for her. Never ever thought she could win that tonight (not even when she had MP). I’m most proud of the fact that she absolutely controlled her nerves, she was even serve boting at times…
    Also, I like that German media is full of these news. I mean winning your first GS against the GOAT like it’s your everyday business is fucking crazy.

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  17. Serena: Williams: 69 titles (21 majors), 743 wins, 270 weeks as number 1 Steffi Graf: 107 titles (22 majors), 900 wins, 377 weeks as number 1, GOLDEN SLAM Steffi Graf has more titles, more Grand slam titles, more wins in carreer, more weeks as number 1 and the Golden Slam. So, she is clearly ahead of Serena Williams as the number 1 player, the real queen of tennis.

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  18. Not to be fussy, but the Slams should carry more weight, being the main common denominator.

    A female player can win all types of titles but winning Indian Wells(Premier Mandatory, BNP)is not the same as winning Hobart(Australia) or Generali ladies( Linz, Austria) titles. Same as winning Madrid Open is not equal to Japan Women’s Open. Some are Tier I others Tier III or IV, currently Premier Mandatory, or International tournaments but all are WTA titles nonetheless.

    Also, Caroline has been ranked no.1, Jelena Jankovic was number 1 for 17 weeks, but Kerber has a grand slam, Kvitova has 2 slams, Li Na has 2 slams, Svetlana has 2 slams all have never been top ranked. Highest I think is ranked no.2. Let me sneak in Schiavone, and even Stosur and Penetta.

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