US Open, Semi-Final Preview for Thursday: Angelique Kerber v Caroline Wozniacki

Kerber

Angelique Kerber and Caroline Wozniacki will play for the first time in a Slam when they meet in the US Open semi-finals on Thursday.

Kerber battled through a gruelling opening set against Roberta Vinci before rolling through the second, recording a 7-5 6-0 quarter-final victory over last year’s finalist. The first set was brilliant and Vinci had her tactics spot on as she frustrated the German player with her potent backhand slice. Vinci twice led by a break, including serving for the set at *5-4. Kerber had played a very impatient game to get broken to love at 4-4. However when she was on the brink, Kerber fought her way out of trouble admirably. In an anticlimactic ending to the set, Kerber broke to love by virtue of a Vinci double fault with a foot fault… never seen that before!

Vinci was clearly struggling with both calf and foot complaints and losing the first set seemed to break her spirit. Kerber was superb in the second set, hitting 14 winners to just 3 unforced errors as Vinci won just ten points. It was a sad end to the match for Vinci and I honestly thought whether this could be the last time we ever see her on the tennis court. Vinci has already stated that she is contemplating retiring at the end of this year and this was her best result of 2016. It will be a sad moment when it happens but we’ll have to wait and see. Once again, Kerber showed her improved problem solving skills and mental calmness to prevail in straights.

Wozniacki dropped just two games against a struggling, Anastasija Sevastova, 6-0 6-2. It was a tough one for Sevastova who injured her ankle in the second game of the match but continued on valiantly. It was a disappointing night session on Ashe (luck of the draw for the fans!) as Wozniacki wrapped up the win in 64 minutes, finishing with 14 winners to 5 unforced errors. Since dropping the first set of her tournament to Taylor Townsend, Wozniacki hasn’t dropped more than four games in the last ten sets she has played.

Head-to-head record: Kerber leads Wozniacki, 7-5 in their head-to-head. Kerber won two of their three 2015 encounters including their most recent match-up in Beijing, 6-2 6-3 which was one of their shortest matches. No player has won more than three matches in a row in their head-to-head.

Interesting stat: Kerber may have lost her last three finals on tour but she is enjoying her most consistent stretch of the season, winning 24 of her last 27 matches since Wimbledon. For Wozniacki, she has won five matches at a tournament for the first time since winning the Kuala Lumpur title in 2015. It is her best result at a Slam since the 2014 US Open.

Final thoughts: On a fast hard court, this is a really exciting match-up. They both know each other’s games really well and the match-up is not a mental one in the sense that the best player on the day will win. Kerber’s had the far more consistent season, but Wozniacki has elevated her level this tournament and she’s proven on multiple occasions that she can come out on top in this match-up. It will be fascinating to see if Kerber’s recent improvements, mostly mental, give her the edge in this one.

Photo in this post by mootennis.com

29 thoughts on “US Open, Semi-Final Preview for Thursday: Angelique Kerber v Caroline Wozniacki

  1. Be interesting to see if the #1 ranking does start to play on Kerbers mind at all. She says she isn’t thinking about it but honestly how could she not?

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    • I think she is, but she’s that mature to understand the true implications of the ranking relative to everything else. The title of being the no.1 can be intoxicating..lol. Knowing what I gleam from her expressions, she will love it.

      But, it’s been a good year from her, seeing as she didn’t disappear after the Australian Open win, unlike some other first time slam winners. Here she is again at the cusp of another Slam final. No one can say she doesn’t put it in the work.

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    • Yeah agree. She probably is thinking about it. But as long as she copes with the pressure all is fine 😉 I think she’ll win in two. I never thought she was winning against Petra or Roberta, so now I’m starting to believe that she really is ready to play in the final against Serena who was two potentially tricky rounds ahead.
      Btw Andrew: Karo made it!!! Did you watch the 3rd set?? It was really good and I’m so happy she is finally delivering on the big stages. Fingers crossed against Konjuh!!!

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      • I diiiid. I watched the whole match. Really, REALLY impressive from Karolina. She was returning some enormous serves with an air of authority that you very rarely see against the Williams sisters. I thought she moved well after the first set and played smart tactics. I thought she’d lost it when she failed to serve it out, but she was remarkably well composed in the tiebreak.

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      • Yep same. I was like no way she is going to win after failing to convert one of the three MPs. But she proved me wrong! 😉 Tbh I’d love so see her in the final.. I also want to see Serena vs Angie.. haha or maybe Caro winning the elusive slam title 😛 This is the first time in ages I’d be happy with anyone of the remaining players winning it. I’ll just watch and enjoy it on Saturday 🙂 🙂

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      • I’d want Pliskova to win… if it weren’t for me wanting to see Serena stay #1. But reaching the semi finals is really huge for her. Especially coming at the tail end of the year. This puts her at #6 in the rankings and with plenty of opportunity to gain over the last part of the season. And she didn’t start the year that well either, so she won’t be pressured to defend at the start of next year.

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  2. Too easy for Caroline though, but what can she do, you can only play the opponent as is. Nothing against Caroline, but I’m thinking Kerber will fare better against anyone in the final. But if there ever was a slam I thought Caroline could win, it is the US open.

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      • I’m referencing her win against Sevastova in light of her injury. It turned out to be a match easier match for Caroline. Never in doubt that she is playing good tennis, but the expected challenge never manifested itself.
        If I was picking by heart, I would go for Caroline. Just want her to win one of these. But head says Kerber has shown the form and the experience for awhile now to be able to contain Caroline.
        What will be your head pick Andrew?

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      • It’s almost too difficult to say because I don’t think any of their previous meetings has come when both players are playing as well and aggressively as they are now. I do feel like Caroline has a better record at playing fellow counterpunchers than Angie does. Kerber prefers pace being thrown at her whereas Wozniacki doesn’t seem to mind too much playing at low pace.

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    • The draw was too top heavy this year. Mostly all the good consistently players were in the top half of the draw. Halep and Serena had a tough section. Halep should have been in Garbinia or Kerber section. I hope Caro and Kerber’s match doesn’t disappoint. Both of there quarter finals were boring and left people disappointed. Can somebody get Petra to wake up because she belongs in the top 5? She is to talented to be playing so badly. And I doubt she will be able to defend her end of the year points.

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  3. I’m going for Wozniacki to win this match in three sets. She has really gotten herself back in form. I believe that she’ll put Kerber under a lot of pressure to be the new #1 and she can really move Kerber around on court. Kerber’s game has really fluctuated in some of her matches and if she wants to beat Wozniacki, she’ll need to cut down on the errors.

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  4. Kerber has an easy draw. Unpredictova and vintage Roberta are on the way to downhill. I think Kerber should pray to God that Serena will retire soon so that she has a chance to win few more slams. I really hope Wozniacki beats her in the semi-final.

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  5. I have a feeling Wozniacki will beat Kerber. She really knows how to push Kerber around on the court and leads 7-5 overall in their head-to-head hard court matches. This match will be putting Kerber under a lot of pressure, knowing that she is in contention for the #1 ranking with Serena. My championship prediction will be between Serena and Wozniacki.

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  6. I was waiting for the final thread, but here goes:
    Congratulations to Kerber. Aside from Serena, she’s easily the most deserving #1 since Henin- 3 major finals and an Olympic Gold final, that’s seriously impressive stuff!

    And Pliskova! 11 match winning streak including FIVE top ten players, both the Williams sisters, only the FOURTH woman to beat both Venus and Serena in one Slam. Not only that but she’s now won two matches which determined the #1 ranking. These are the kind of results I predicted 2 years ago and was starting to think would never come… I hope she wins. She’s already qualified for Singapore pretty much regardless.

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    • Nice words about Kerber. You must be thrilled for Pliskova! I was starting to question whether it was ever going to happen for her at a Slam. Once she broke that barrier at the 3rd round, she has been brilliant.

      A quick final post hopefully coming at lunchtime… all over the place with both SFs at night and wi-fi at home not working :-S

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      • As gutted as I am for Serena, I think she still has Slams in her. I’m hoping that losing #1 will give her one final push before she calls it a day.
        But Kerber deserves every bit of credit and more. What she’s achieved this year on tour is nothing short of extraordinary. Especially if she wins tomorrow.

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      • Yeah I bet it was a weird one for you because I know how you have championed both Serena and Karolina.

        I’d agree, I think Serena has more Slams in her and losing #1 will give her something to fight for. I’m fascinated to see if she shuts down her year like last year as she obviously has nothing to defend. I really hope at a minimum that she plays Singapore.

        And yeah, Kerber’s had a fantastic year. I’ve always loved watching her play but can’t say I ever thought she had this within her. I’m embarrassed to say I had her at #11 in my pre-season predictions! I thought the loss to Lucie in Singapore last year was telling but she’s actually used it as a springboard to improve. Mentally, the improvement this year has been staggering.

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      • Surprisingly, this is the first slam in which I don’t feel gutted for her at all except for the small matter of this being her home slam contest. Losing at home will likely always leave a sour taste, but she’s made the semis/final of all four slams.

        She’s collected more records and she’s already settled the score emphatically with the new no.1 at Wimbledon where Kerber then acknowledged her as the best. Personally, the tussle with Graf ended when she claimed the 22nd Slam, other records are just icing on the cake.

        She may go on to win YEC(5th Slam) but this tournament’s results may just well make the Year end championship more interesting.

        I wonder if Maria had been in the mix, if the year would have played out as it has, just thinking out loud.

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    • It’s Pliskova I’m really jealous of, she gets the chance to play/beat two No.1’s consecutively in one major Slam. How much more of a coming of age story does one need to realise that………….’ Ha….I’m here’!

      I hope Kerber doesn’t suffer a letdown, she is the world no.1, and hopefully she plays the final like one. It takes me back to the start of the year when all I wanted from her was to repeat at the Porsche Grand Prix with Maria out. Her hardwork has payed off.

      Will Julia Georges be cheering for her new doubles partner or for her country mate.

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      • I think Goerges will be happy for either. She’s been at a lot of Karolinas matches though this tournament.

        Do you think Pliskova could do it? Winning 12 straight matches including wins over SIX top ten players? That’d have to be almost a record, wouldn’t it?
        Kerber won’t officially be #1 until Monday though, so that wouldn’t go down as a top rank win.

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      • If Karolina does win, I really can’t see how this moment wont define her career going forward. She has proven her mettle and top 10 quality. The next step will be to own it and be consistent. Her age makes it more perfect as well.

        Minor technicality, that no.1 ranking. (: Kerber accepted her title in the presser, although I sense the Slam crown will probably mean more to Karolina than beating a freshly minted no.1 in Kerber.

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