Miami Preview – Victoria Azarenka v Angelique Kerber

The Australian Open champion and the Indian Wells champion will go head to head for the third time this season. A place in the final of Miami is at stake with Kerber finally finding some form after winning her maiden Grand Slam tournament in Melbourne where as the impressive Victoria Azarenka who has only lost once this year to Angelique Kerber is looking to become only the third women to hold the Indian Wells and Miami title just like Steffi Graf and Kim Clijsters have done in the past.

Form wise I think Azarenka has been the best player on the tour this year jumping from 22 in the world at the start of the season and is now guaranteed top 5, Kerber on the other hand coming into this tournament was struggling for any momentum and a mixture of luck and good tennis has got her to the semi-finals.

With head to head I try not to look past the year just gone. Vika leads their head to head at 6-1 beginning the year with the win in the Brisbane final but the German did return the favour to Azarenka with a win in the quarter finals on route to her claiming her first major.

This match has all the ingredients to go the full three sets and in the heat of Miami it will be a massive test for both players. If you’re looking for consistency from players then Vika is your player, she has played at a consistently high level throughout the week and has recorded some very impressive straight set wins against Garbine Muguruza and Johanna Konta.

The standout for me this week has been the forehand of the Belorussian. It seems virtually impossible to continually and successfully defend against it, once Vika starts to move forward and you see that right arm swing you are in trouble however Kerber is probably the best defender she has faced this week so expect extended rallies as she coped with well against Konta and Vika did move to the net I liked that she let the ball bounce and took her time, there is nothing worse than a drive volley into the net.

vika fh line

Talking about the forehand I’m looking for the forehand down the line. Cross court is my favourite from Vika the spin and selection she gets on it is magnificent but that flat one down the line keeping it low will force Kerber to most likely slice it back if she gets good power on it allowing her to come to the net where as a forehand cross court could play into Kerber’s hand.

konta fh v vika

We saw against Konta who did produce some good winners whilst on the stretch on the forehand side with Vika left a little flat footed in the middle or at the back of the court.

Kerber’s best chance for me despite winning their last meeting is keeping up that aggression which was missing against Kiki Bertens in an earlier round and I honestly believe if it wasn’t for Kiki sadly falling ill and having to retire we’d be talking about a different semi-final.

My pick for this one is Azarenka. She has only lost once this year (to Kerber) and looks very impressive and I just cannot see her right now losing this one. The form she has been in and the slow court suits her game more, she’s been composed all week and I think she will advance to her third final of 2016.

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