Angelique Kerber and Madison Keys face-off in a highly-anticipated quarter-final at the Australian Open on Wednesday, and with both of them entering the match in red-hot form, it promises to be a blockbuster affair.
Kerber is undefeated in all three tournaments she has competed in so far in 2018 (Hopman Cup, Sydney, Australian Open) while Madison Keys has swiftly swatted away every opponent this fortnight in Melbourne.
Here’s a close look at the facts and figures behind this match-up…
Kerber leads Keys 6-1 in previous meetings, with the sole loss for the German coming in the Eastbourne final in 2014. They’ve played each other on every surface, indoors and outdoors, and two of their seven showdowns have gone the distance. Keys has a brute force approach, but like she said, has been playing smarter and smarter with time, while Kerber absorbs pace like none other and can also do damage with her lefty groundstrokes, especially down-the-line.
The American No. 17 seed has been breezing through her matches in Melbourne. She hasn’t dropped a set, has lost just 19 games in total across four rounds (fewest dropped among all quarter-finalists this fortnight), and has spent a mere four hours and 10 minutes in total on court. In comparison, Kerber has had three smooth rounds before having to fight back from a set down in the last-16 against a giant-killing Hsieh Su-Wei. Kerber spent five hours and 28 minutes on court.
Keys has fired 100 winners (against 92 unforced errors) so far this tournament. She’s struck 26 aces, dropped serve four times (saved 13/17 break points) and has won 79 per cent of the points on her first serve. Kerber on the other hand has a solid Winners:Unforced errors differential, hitting 79 winners and committing 66 unforced errors. The ex-world No. 1 has struck seven aces and dropped serve eight times.
The average ranking of Keys’ opponents is 62 while that number is a low 144 for the 21st-seeded Kerber. But it’s worth noting that Kerber easily dismissed Maria Sharapova, whose ranking is still down at 48. That match showcased how strong Kerber is at the moment, while Keys’ routine win over eighth-seeded Caroline Garcia sent a warning to the rest of the field.
The two-time Grand Slam champion has won 13 matches in a row in 2018, if you count the four singles clashes she won in the Hopman Cup. She then took the title in Sydney and is now in the Melbourne last-eight.
Kerber is bidding to become the first woman to win Sydney and the Australian Open back-to-back since Victoria Azarenka in 2012. The 30-year-old German is bidding for a 75th career win over a top-20 player.
Keys can re-enter the top-10 if she reaches the semi-finals. Is contesting her fourth Grand Slam quarter-final while Kerber is contesting her eighth.
Riding a strong winning streak and with a comfortable head-to-head, you’d expect Kerber to enter this match with sky-high confidence. Her test against Hsieh made her fight hard and come back from a tough situation, which only added to her self-belief. Keys is in great form but she hasn’t faced someone like Kerber yet this tournament and unless she keeps her error count under control, the German can frustrate her by forcing her to keep hitting an extra ball. I say Kerber takes it in three sets.
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