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Angelique Kerber and Dayana Yastremska go head-to-head for the first time on Wednesday when they battle for a quarter final spot at the Adelaide International.
Angelique Kerber vs Dayana Yastremska is live from Adelaide on Wednesday, 15 January from 1:00pm local time/ 2:30am GMT
Kerber is looking to reach just her second quarter final since the start of July last year, a period that covers her last 10 tournaments. The German had a poor finish to last season, winning just four of her last 12 matches.
Kerber had done decently in the opening half of 2019, reaching finals at Indian Wells and Eastbourne, and semi-finals in Doha, Monterrey and Mallorca, but she was well off the pace in the second half of the year. This poor run of form was sparked by a second round exit at Wimbledon, where she surrendered her title following a three-set loss to Lauren Davis.
That Wimbledon defeat was followed by four straight opening round exits in Toronto, Cincinnati, the US Open and Zhengzhou, before she stopped the slide with a semi-final in Osaka. Her season ended in Beijing, where she lost to Polona Hercog in the second round. Kerber started 2019 as the No. 2 player in the world, but she ended at 20th, following a season during which she faltered at the Slams and didn’t win any titles overall.
The German began her year with a 7-6 7-6 loss to Sam Stosur in Brisbane- Kerber’s sixth opening round loss in eight tournaments, but she avoided that fate in Adelaide, beating Qiang Wang 6-1 6-3 in her tournament opener.
Kerber was hardly troubled by Wang- she converted 60% of points on her first serve and 71% on her second, while she limited Wang to under 50% of points on both the Chinese’ first and second serves.
She faces a very different, and very dangerous opponent on Wednesday.
Like Kerber, Yastremska lost her opening match the season last week Brisbane (to Kiki Bertens), but she has got off the mark in Adelaide, beating Timea Babos in the first round. The swashbuckling Ukrainian fired down nine aces, won 87% of points on her first serve, and did not any break points in a clean serving performance.
After barging into the top-100 in late 2018, winning a maiden career title in Hong Kong and reaching the semis in Luxembourg, Yastremska continued her rise in 2019, claiming further titles in Hua Hin and Strasbourg, and notably reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon and the third round at the US Open. She started last year at 59th in the world, but ended at a career-high mark of 22nd.
Keen to continue that trajectory in 2020, Yastremska added German coach, Sascha Bajin to her team during the off season. The Ukrainian will hope that Bajin has a similar effect to what he had with Naomi Osaka, whom the German guided to two major titles. Her next opponent, Kerber is also under a new coach, with the former world No. 1 now being coached by Dieter Kindlmann.
It’s a clash of styles between Kerber and Yastremska: the ultra-aggressive Yastremska against the counterpunching Kerber. I don’t think Kerber can counter-punch her way to victory against Yastremska on Wednesday. She’s got to step out of her comfort zone and be more aggressive. Even that may not be enough to take down the explosive Ukrainian. The match is on Yastremska’s racket- can she execute?