Angelique Kerber will play just her second WTA tour match since winning the Australian Open on Saturday, going up against the steadily improving, Denisa Allertova in Indian Wells.
Allertova laid down her credentials with a thumping 6-0 6-1 victory over fellow Czech, Petra Cetkovska on Thursday. The match lasted just 41 (!) minutes and Allertova was very impressive. Cetkovska, sporting strapping on her knee, was playing just her fourth match since a third round appearance at the US Open. This was apparent with Cetkovska struggling for rhythm and in particular on her serve as she produced six double faults. Cetkovska raised her arms in celebration after winning her first game down 0-6 0-5 before promptly shaking her head in disbelief at what was happening. Allertova though, never wavered and served out the match to love.
Kerber arrives in Indian Wells as the number two seed, which is still taking some time to get used to! The German player had a tremendous start to the year, winning the Australian Open, but also reaching the final at the Brisbane International. Since then, her results haven’t matched the lofty heights of Australia; she went 1-1 in Fed Cup action the weekend after Melbourne and then lost her opening match in Doha to Saisai Zheng, 5-7 1-6. It was a match that you would never expect Kerber to lose although in hindsight Zheng’s game doesn’t match up well for Kerber because of the lack of pace she offers. However, it is far too early to make assessments about Kerber’s response to winning the Australian Open and Indian Wells and Miami will provide a much fairer indication.
Head-to-head record: This will be the first time that Kerber and Allertova have played each other on the WTA tour.
Final thoughts: This should be a very interesting match and a real test for Kerber. Allertova is starting to make some consistent, positive strides on the tour and already has enjoyed some big wins, defeating the likes of Simona Halep, Carla Suárez Navarro and Elina Svitolina in the last year. All these players can be loosely linked to Kerber in having more defensively-minded games. I nearly went for the upset in this one, but I feel like that would not be giving enough respect to Kerber. While there is added pressure that Kerber has yet to prove that she can deal with, she’s still a very consistent player who is tough to beat. I think Allertova will come close to the upset, but Kerber will tough out the win.
Prediction: Kerber d. Allertova in 3 sets