2018 WTA Finals Singapore Day 6 Previews: Osaka vs Bertens, Kerber vs Stephens

The last round robin matches ever in Singapore is about to come to an end and it’s an exciting prospect that our four members in the Red Group are still in the running for the remaining two semifinal spots. It’s Red Group taking centre stage today – read on for previews of Osaka-Bertens and Kerber-Stephens…

WTA Finals Singapore, Round Robin

Angelique Kerber’s three set victory over Naomi Osaka was just one of the many thrilling three-set battles this week as the German fought past the Japanese in a 6-4 5-7 6-4 scoreline. Much like her first match, Osaka was unable to find her range on the first serve and the forehand, and Kerber quickly capitalised on Osaka’s unforced errors to go up by a set and a 5-4 lead in the second. Pretty predictably, Osaka finally managed to find her groundstrokes at this point, and found another level to continually attack the German’s second serves, which left the World No.2 in a frustrated and annoyed mood. While the momentum was totally with Osaka at this point, the US Open champion was unable to maintain a consistent level throughout the entire third set, and wasn’t able to take her chances on Kerber’s vulnerable serve. A 5/18 break point conversion was for Osaka was a huge reason why she lost, and Angie managed to serve the match out on her second try. Overall, a nice win for Kerber as the match could have gone away from her quickly, but her mostly passive approach to this match will likely not work against her next opponent, Sloane Stephens.

Stephens’ three-set victory over Kiki Bertens was probably the messiest match out of all the three-set matches this week as the pair alternated between brilliant play at the net to disastrous groundstrokes and weak serving. This was a similar match to Stephens-Osaka where the American was able to produce a solid display of tennis in the first, but suffered a mid-match lull in the second set. Impressively, Stephens was able to reset in the decider and continued chasing down balls even as the clock approached the 1 a.m. mark in Singapore. Ultimately, Stephens’ steadier serve, safer groundstrokes and smart net approaches at times were what lead her to a 2-0 lead over the other members of the Red Group.

1. [3] Naomi Osaka vs [8] Kiki Bertens

Qualification scenarios: If Bertens wins, she qualifies and Osaka is eliminated.

If Osaka wins, Bertens is eliminated and Stephens will have to beat Kerber in order for Osaka to qualify.

Head to head: Osaka won their only previous meeting back in 2016, with a 6-4 6-2 victory in Acapulco.

Thoughts: These court conditions definitely do not suit Osaka’s game and she seems understandably fatigued in her last two matches in Singapore. Osaka though is still in with a chance to qualify and I think she’ll produce a much better performance today. Bertens has fluctuated between impressive play and disappointing errors this week, but against such an aggressive and powerful player like Osaka, it’ll be interesting to see what is her approach towards this match. This could go either way but edging towards Osaka’s stronger mental strength and groundstrokes.

Final Prediction: Naomi Osaka d. Kiki Bertens in three sets

2. [1] Angelique Kerber vs [5] Sloane Stephens

Qualification scenarios: If Stephens wins, Stephens qualifies and Kerber is eliminated.

If Kerber wins in two sets, Kerber qualifies.

Head to head: Stephens leads the head to head 4-1, and has won their past four meetings, including a 6-1 6-2 victory over the German in Indian Wells earlier this year.

Thoughts: There have been many surprises in Singapore this week, but something many won’t expect is Kerber to score a win against Stephens! Kerber has been unable to hit through Stephens in their previous meetings with the American’s impressive ability to turn defence into attack. On a slow court like Singapore, coupled with Kerber’s recent form, I highly doubt Kerber will be able to do that. Excluding her second set lulls, Stephens has been as solid as a rock this week and has shown her mental strength in Singapore this far. Stephens all the way…

Final Prediction: Sloane Stephens d. Angelique Kerber in three sets

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

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