2018 Dubai Championships Semifinal Preview: Elina Svitolina vs Angelique Kerber

It’s a blockbuster first semifinal in Dubai as top seed, Elina Svitolina will look to extended her winning head to head record against the in-form Angelique Kerber. Svitolina has won their last four meetings but Kerber is in the form of her life; who will punch a spot into the final in this mouth-watering clash? Read on for the preview…

Dubai Semifinals

[1] Elina Svitolina (No.4) vs [6] Angelique Kerber (No.8)

Elina Svitolina has posted decent results to start 2018 but this has been largely marred by the fact that the Ukrainian failed to make it past the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam once again. Having started the year with a title in Brisbane, Svitolina had a dream draw to the last 8 in the Australian Open but came unstuck at this stage of a Slam again. Though she cited a hip injury as the issue in the quarterfinal, it was still largely disappointing as Svitolina extended her losing record in Slam quarterfinals to 0-3. Svitolina came back to the tour at the Qatar Open where she failed to make an impact as the No.3 seed, losing in the second round to eventual champion Petra Kvitova, but has bounced back nicely to make the quarterfinals here as the defending champion.

Svitolina’s road in Dubai has been anything but simple thus far as the World No.4 was tested by her two opponents, Wang Qiang and Naomi Osaka. Svitolina needed three sets in the first round to fend off the challenge from Wang, and came back from a 4-1 deficit in the second set to beat Osaka. A worrying pattern for Svitolina in these two matches is that when she has tried to play more aggressively, she has been committing more errors than usual. Against an experienced player like Kerber, the Ukrainian will have to make some adjustments to her game and play her best tennis in this semifinal to stand a chance.

Angelique Kerber has managed to continue that stunning form we saw in Australia – so far in 2018, out of five tournaments, the German has made at least the quarterfinals in all of them. It was more predictable that Angie would showcase her best tennis in Australia again; after all, her breakthrough year in 2016 all started with the Australian Open title, but her good two weeks here in the Middle East is more surprising considering she has never done well during this swing. Prior to this month, Kerber had posted negative win-loss records in Doha (5-8) and Dubai (4-6), but so far this week she has looked like a dab hand in Dubai, blasting past three opponents that has gave her troubles in the past.

Kerber trounced past the likes of Barbora Strycova, Sara Errani and Karolina Pliskova with the loss of only 16 games thus far – a stunning week! Kerber has struggled with Errani’s topspin, and Pliskova’s aggressive groundstrokes in their previous meetings, but this time it was comfortable victories for Kerber as she showcased the new an improved version of Angie from 2016.

Head to head: Svitolina has a slight lead in their head to head series, at 6-5, but as aforementioned Svitolina has had Kerber’s number of late, recording four straight wins over the German.

Stat: Kerber has a 3-3 record against top 10 players in the past two years, while Svitolina is at 13-5! Excluding the WTA Finals, Svitolina has recorded six straight wins against top 10 opponents.

Thoughts: This is a tough match to call – Svitolina does have the head to head in her favour, with Kerber in their past meetings failing to outhit and outplay Svitolina in many rallies. However Angie is definitely different from 2017; her mentality has changed, her serve’s improved, and her groundstrokes have been super solid and unpredictable this year. Conversely, Svitolina’s game has been a little lacking in Dubai, too inconsistent and unstable off the ground when on the attack. Though I am sure Svitolina will be up for this challenge then in her previous matches this week, I think Kerber should be too strong for the Ukrainian.

Final Prediction: Angelique Kerber d. Elina Svitolina in two sets

Dubai predictions are here! Thanks for reading!


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