Is another early round exit on the cards for Angelique Kerber? The former World No.1 plays qualifier Donna Vekic in a potential upset alert.
(3) Angelique Kerber [No.3]
Route to this stage
Angelique Kerber is back on court – but this time not as the top seed since last year in Wuhan, when she became the World No.1. Kerber arrives in the Canadian city off an encouraging performance in the fourth round of Wimbledon against eventual champion Garbine Muguruza, looking like the player we had seen last year. She was going for her forehand down the line and counter-punching brilliantly throughout the match. We shall see if Kerber can use that as a stepping platform to do well over the US hard court swing where she has ton of points to defend, and if the pressure of not being the top seed will work well in her favour.
(Q) Donna Vekic [No.51]
Route to this stage
Q1: d. Carson Branstine, 5-7 6-2 6-3
Q2: d. Patricia Maria Tig, 6-4 6-2
R1: d. Eugenie Bouchard, 6-3 6-4
Unlike Kerber, Donna Vekic has been having arguably her best season of her career so far. Starting the year at No.99, the Croatian is on the cusp of entering the Top 50 again (she did it in July). Her first main rise up the rankings came in Nottingham where she beat the likes of Lucie Safarova and Johanna Konta to claim her second WTA title. Aiming to reach the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time in Wimbledon, her and Konta played an epic contest which was dominated by serve, but ultimately fell short. Her most impressive part of her game throughout the whole of the grass court swing was her 110mph high first serve, and it seems like it the serve has been dominating in Toronto, winning 73% and 81% of first serves in her first two qualifying matches.
Stat: Kerber is 24-6 against players outside of the Top 20 this season. Vekic is 2-9 against Top 10 players in her career.
Thoughts: Kerber has a very good record against players outisde of Top 20 this year but Vekic is of a different calibre, especially with her first serve. The serve of Kerber, especially the second delivery, has been a real stumbling block of the German and that’s where Vekic can take her chances to break serve. Together with her first serve she would be unbeatable then! However big hitters always have inconsistent days and I like how Kerber played against Muguruza. If the German continues to be her usual ‘wall’ self and attack during crucial moments she stands a chance in this one. I am guessing that this is going to be a tight tussle, with Kerber’s experience and counter-punching to prevail.