Women’s Wimbledon 2016, Quarter-Final Preview: Angelique Kerber v Simona Halep

Kerber

In an all top five clash, Angelique Kerber and Simona Halep will open Centre Court proceedings on Tuesday afternoon. Of the four quarter-finals, this is the only one where the seedings have held and the two highest seeds have progressed.

Kerber was the first winner of the day on Magic Monday with a reasonably comfortable, 6-3 6-1 victory over Misaki Doi. Compared to their last match in the first round of the Australian Open, it was a walk in the park for the German player! Kerber saved a match point on that occasion in a two hour and 41 minute marathon. This time round, Kerber had the measure of Doi who, playing in her first ever Slam second week, committed too many unforced errors to keep this competitive. Kerber looked to be struggling with pace on the serve in the first set but soon began to find her range, hitting one magnificent forehand passing shot.

Kerber played a fine second set, showing more intent as her opponent became increasingly error-strewn. Doi can produce some magic on her forehand side but it just wasn’t stable enough on this occasion. Kerber finished the match with a gorgeous wrong-footing forehand winner. After drawing the short straw against a peaking, Garbiñe Muguruza in the third round of Wimbledon last year, Kerber has taken advantage of a pretty favourable draw to reach her third Wimbledon quarter-final.

Halep’s back in the Wimbledon quarters after coming from a set and a break down to defeat the Birmingham champion, Madison Keys on Magic Monday. Spare a thought for the American who seemed to be struggling with a leg injury in the decider. It’s not the first time that Keys has been injured at a Slam (2016 AO against Zhang Shuai was a heartbreaker).

Halep did well to reset after the first set where she missed four set points, failing to serve it out at both *5-4 and *6-5. Halep had looked in control early on, under little pressure on the serve and keeping Keys off-balance with some well-placed shots and spins. However, she clearly felt the nerves and began to miss towards the end of it with Keys, not playing anywhere near her best, but keeping things reasonably solid.

Keys claimed the first set tiebreak with a neat serve and forehand combo on set point. The American quickly went up a break in the second set, but never really looked comfortable up against Halep. The Romanian player got back on level terms and broke for the second set with Keys buckling at *4-5 serving with scoreboard pressure. Halep earnt the only break of the third set to lead *4-2 and didn’t face any break points as Keys struggled to put any pressure on the injured leg. It was still a noteworthy win for Halep, who has had a super tournament so far having played no competitive matches on grass before Wimbledon this year.

Head-to-head record: Halep won her first three encounters against Kerber including a brutal, 6-3 5-7 6-4 victory in Toronto last year. In their most recent match in Fed Cup action, Kerber powered through for her first ever win over the Romanian player, 6-2 6-2 in Fed Cup action in April earlier this year.

*Edit – Halep was struggling with an ankle injury in the Fed Cup match

Interesting stat: Halep’s win over Keys was her first top ten win on the WTA tour since beating US Open champion, Flavia Pennetta in Singapore at the end of 2015. For Kerber, this is the first year since 2012 where she has made at least two Slam quarter-finals in the same year.

Final thoughts: Kerber and Halep have both made pretty serene progress through the draw with Kerber yet to drop a set and Halep losing her first set of the tournament to Keys. After watching their match in Canada, it was apparent this is a tricky match-up for Kerber with Halep’s ability to change direction on her shots with such effortless ease and get her in uncomfortable positions all over the court. Kerber though did look fatigued in that particular match having played Stanford the week before.

Grass would seem to suit Kerber’s game better, but she’ll need to step it up to win. The Australian Open champ has been a little passive this week although in fairness, she’s never really been in danger apart from the match against Carina Witthoeft where she was forced to save set points. Halep’s win over Keys will have been a confidence booster but there was quite a wobble trying to serve out the opener. The winner of this match will quite simply, in my opinion, be the player who plays more positively and goes for their shots. I’d fancy a competitive three setter with Kerber’s grass court prowess edging it.

Photo in this post by mootennis.com

34 thoughts on “Women’s Wimbledon 2016, Quarter-Final Preview: Angelique Kerber v Simona Halep

  1. I am also picking a Kerber win,I feel she is a better grass court player than Halep,though I think this match will go the distance in 3 sets.

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  2. No poll, James? Trying to preclude the inevitable Halep landslide? 😍

    Slightly favor Halep. Like both. Hope it is a great match.

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    • I think we all know how the poll would go! Appreciate the support of Halep’s fans for their player but it now seems the poll is essentially redundant in trying to gauge who readers think might win.

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      • Idk why, when I voted for Keys in their 4R poll and I saw 800 something vs 90 something, I was like did the Romanian tennis authority promote your article and asked Romanian fans to vote Simona to boost morale. Its just amazing, patriotic (cannot deny this) and at the same time, crazy!!!

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  3. as always, you being not a fan, to put it mildly, of simona, is making your prediction a bit biased. since you mentioned the fact that angie was tired in their encounter in Canada, plus the fact that keys was injured today, why not spend a phrase on mentioning that Halep had a twisted ankle in fedcup? 🙂

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    • You’re right, I should have mentioned Halep’s injury and that was an oversight on my part so apologies. I’ve amended this now. To call me biased though is unfair.

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      • It was not meant as something negative, I think it is just fine for you to be biased under any circumstances, it is your prediction 🙂 It is obvious for me that you don t really like Simona, but I think that is not a problem, your are not the Hague Supreme Court, you are here writing your opinions. Sorry if you felt ofended.

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      • Contrary to the comments i’ve received here from Halep fans, that’s not true! I really like Simona as a person and I enjoy watching her play. It just so happens I think Kerber on grass is going to edge this! That’s my opinion… it may be right and it may be wrong 🙂

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      • I cannot reply to your last comment, don t know why. Anyway, I would not have had this opinion only based on one prediction, which I happen to agree with. It is just the sensation you leave in general, but as I said, it is normal that each of us has its favorites and players whom we do not like as much. I did not say you are a hater 🙂 I just think you do not like her very much. No problem, hope they ll have a great match and may the best one win!

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      • It’s not that James doesn’t like Simona, I think. I’ve been following his blog for a long time now, commenting now and then. The vibe I’m getting is that he like her, but doesn’t always favour here mostly likely due to her inconsistency. Let’s face it, she can win a touch match emphatically then crash in an inexplicably manner in the next one (see US Open 2015 for example). I’ve also questioned James’ position in the past, and him “not being a fan”, is not “putting it mildly”. It’s just putting it “normally”. Everyone has their favourites. James’s is Lucie, and that’s totally fine.

        In this particular case, on paper Angie has the advantage, no matter how “patriotic” we are. She’s ranking #2, has had a Grand Slam win this year against Serena, she’s been doing well in this draw so far and her style is better suited to grass than Simona’s. Yet, these things might easily be blown off if Simona goes for her shots and style, playing with a lot of diversity and generally having lots of faith in herself, that’s when she’s at her best. So it’s really a tight one to call, with a small edge – in theory – for Angie.

        In regards to the poll, James, while I understand the logic behind your decision, I still believe it’s wrong to remove it. While on paper I can see why Angie could win this, I still have a gut feeling that a strong Simona will win this. Public polls aren’t really meant for “Experts” nor their results should be taken as expert-predictions. It’s basically a way for people to express their own opinion on who will win/who they want to win a game and show support, just like political polls. The fact that Romanians have faith in their representative and that so many of them showed up… well, tough luck! What’s stopping Germans to show up and vote? To be true, in your place I’d be really happy with the amount of attention, traffic and readership the blog is getting instead of basically penalising a demographic just for showing up more than another one (Germans or worldwide Angie fans). It’s basically like saying French fans shouldn’t have been allowed on the stadium at the France – Iceland game because they were too many compared to the Icelandic once and that would have created a support bias. Polling each and every one of those supporters wouldn’t have produced a realistic result, each of them would have opted for their country. People almost always vote based on hopes and wishes (emotional votes). Just my 2 cents. Hope you’ll reconsider this.

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      • @Frank, unfortunately I had to tackle 3 different topics, or 3 different opinions in that comment. 🙂 Would it help if in the future I’ll break it in 3 different comments, one per topic/opinion?

        Jokes aside, sorry if it was hard to read, but I guess I only write when I have something to say, with arguments, not small talk, and since this is a blog, I don’t feel limited to tweet-style commenting. Also, most of it was addressed to James, not really a general public comment. But, thanks for the effort of going through it and your opinion on it, seriously!

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      • @Alex not a problem at all. I know what you mean.

        A peak Halep will beat a peak Kerber. Both had reached the semi in Wimby. I can’t say that grass is the best surface for both players like Venus, Kvitova and Serena who had won multiple championships at Wimby. If Halep plays a little bit more aggressive at the net, she will prevail. If she waits too long to play her offensive games, Kerber will take it. Based on what I saw, I believe Halep will beat Kerber (I am not a fan of Halep or Kerber…my girl lost to Slava).

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  4. I know you are not a Simona hater, James, but I have a question about this “Halep’s win over Keys was her first top ten win on the WTA tour since beating US Open champion, Flavia Pennetta in Singapore at the end of 2015. ”

    Why disregard her win over Petra in Fed Cup? Though it wasn’t on the regular circuit I am not sure why it should be ignored completely. “Two Top 10 wins for Halep this year” actually sounds kinda…decent.

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  5. Difficult for me to choose as I have not seen any of Kerber’s matches so far at Wimbledon but I have always considered her to be a potential Wimbledon champion as she has won on the grass ( Birmingham ) and finished runner up at Eastbourne and got to the semi’s here in 2012. Kerber has not played anybody that good to get this far though & has not played that well since the AO. Halep seems to be moving faster this week and I think that she was better than Keys & should have won the first set really. I sense a form of rejuvenation about Halep and I am going for her to beat Kerber. I expect the winner of this match to go on and reach the final.

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    • I expect the winner of this match to be very tired for the semifinal and potentially fall there. These two have the tendency to rally like their lives depended on it and I remember Simona lost the first set with Aga with a bagel after the Angie match in Toronto and then said that this is what a match with Angie can do to her 🙂

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      • Yes, I remember that match between Aga and Simona in Toronto. I never thought I’d see Aga (of all people) hit three aces in one game, in the final set.

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    • I have to agree @Peter, Halep isn’t playing some exceptional tennis on grass, but she is using her speed and energy really well. She seems happy to be on the grass. Keys is not the greatest mover and she is a ‘confidence’ player. Any player who can create some sense of doubt in her game gets some advantage. And, Halep did just that. However, in the third, I felt Keys was beginning to refocus her mind on her game, shame about the injury though. I liked too many players in the Monday draw (: so picking winners was tricky. Now, I would just let this match-up between Halep and Kerber play on and see what gives in the end. It may come down to pure fight as it did with Aga and Domi. I think getting into those long matches is stupid, kind of like Isner vs Mahut. Yes it is exciting, and gets the crowd going, but that is usually the end of your slam run. I would rather win a Wimbledon crown, than play the longest, greatest, most memorable match on grass.

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  6. Excited about the outcome of this match – I like them both!!!
    However, I think that Kerber is the better grass courter whereas Simona, IMO, is a better clay courter?!
    Just gutted I won’t be able to watch it. I’m not even sure if I can check live scores…. poor me!

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  7. This match is 50/50 they both have been playing below par nothing special. Kerber and Halep had very easy draws. So this match will really tell how they both are playing in this tournament. Keys was spraying balls every where and Doi should have not even played today.

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  8. If the H2H is correct, Halep will win this match. Kerber is not impressive either in this year Wimby. Doi was like no show in the round 16. Halep is not Doi so I expect a good fight between both. I am sure this is a good match to watch and I pick Halep to go through.

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    • Up until the FedCup match, when Simona had an injury, Angie was 3 down to her, all on Angie’s better courts (hard). I was thinking that maybe Angie’s serve could help her today, but weirdly enough, in R16, Simona had a faster 1st serves (average/fastest) than Angie: 96/111 vs. 94/100. And even against a better/faster server, like Keys, Simona has the weapons to wear her opponent down mentally and physically. Right now, Simona looks like she has the better weapons: she can variate shot speeds a lot in-rally, variate spin, better footwork than Angie.

      So unless there’s some sort of mental or physical collapse, Halep should be able to edge this on, probably not in an easy manner though.

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