2018 WTA Finals Singapore Day 4 Previews: Kerber vs Osaka, Stephens vs Bertens

Onto Day 4 at the WTA Finals and it’s the Red Group’s turn to see if they can seal their spots in the semifinals first before the last day of round robin action two days later. The two losers from Monday will compete to stay alive in the group, while the two winners will fight for the rights to stay at the top of the Red Group rankings. Read on for previews of Kerber-Osaka and Stephens-Bertens…

WTA Finals Singapore, Round Robin

Angelique Kerber is coming off a disappointing loss to Kiki Bertens, in which she was leading by a set and a break before the Dutchwoman began to peg her back with more accurate and aggressive play. Kerber took the first set 6-1, after Bertens started off nervously, hitting five double faults and hitting many shots long or wide. Meanwhile, Kerber was more precise on her groundstrokes, notably the forehand down the line – this was not the case after Bertens called for her coach in the second set and the German started to miss more and more. A topsy-turvy third set ensued – there were seven breaks of serve in ten games, but in the end Bertens was the one in control of her destiny with more aggressive groundstrokes, and was able to hit through Kerber as the set wore on. Big stat – Bertens hit 16 winners in the deciding set, compared to Kerber’s 4 who was largely relying on defence in the end.

Naomi Osaka vs Sloane Stephens was the best match out of the four from the first two days and it was Sloane who turned out to be the more consistent and solid player, and eventually took the match in three sets. Stephens’ is one of the quickest players on the tour and it was impressive how she was able to soak up Osaka’s power, maintain depth on her groundstrokes and turned defence into attack where she had the opportunity to do so. Sloane’s defensive backhand slice is a beauty up close! Osaka was noticeably lacking intensity early on, but began to make more of her aggressive shots and used angles to move Stephens side to side, taking the second set 6-4. Unfortunately for the Japanese supporters, Osaka wasn’t able to maintain her positive play and Stephens’ counter-punching was way too much for her to handle in the end. It was a great match from the American who was focused and positive throughout the entire match and has a great opportunity to qualify to the semis on this medium to slow indoor court.

1. [1] Angelique Kerber vs [3] Naomi Osaka

Image result for kerber osaka handshake

Head to head: Kerber leads the head to head 3-1, and has won their past two encounters. The pair met earlier this year at Wimbledon, which Kerber won 6-2 6-4.

Thoughts: Though Kerber was pretty disappointing on Monday, the surface should suit her more than Osaka and if she can be at her best physically to retrieve Osaka’s shots, I think she will be able to win. Yet, Angie is lacking in confidence right now and Osaka is starting to be able to grit out wins even when she’s not playing at her best. Naomi though seemed to be drained physically and mentally in the third set vs Stephens, and has indeed played a ton of matches US Open onwards. I think she won’t be able to hit through Kerber on this surface if she’s not at 100%.

Final Prediction: Angelique Kerber d. Naomi Osaka in three sets

2. [5] Sloane Stephens vs [8] Kiki Bertens

Image result for sloane stephens singapore

Head to head: The pair have only met once, back in 2013 where Stephens won in three sets on clay.

Thoughts: It’ll be interesting to see if Bertens can continue her aggressive play against Kerber because she’ll need to against Stephens. I expect Stephens to produce a smart and solid display as she did in her first match, so it’ll come down to Bertens’ level for the most of the match. In my opinion, I feel Bertens will be a little fatigued and Stephens’ consistency will lead her to a win.

Final Prediction: Sloane Stephens d. Kiki Bertens in two sets

Thanks for reading! Check out my Singapore predictions here or at the top of the page!

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