World No.1 Victoria Azarenka is on a huge roll this year, but will the soon-to-be Top 15 player Angelique Kerber be able to stop her in their first ever encounter? Our guest poster Omair is looking into the matter.
The first Indian Wells semifinal pits Victoria Azarenka, the shrieka and the streaka, against fast-rising German, Angelique Kerber, who has shown that she has the nerves of iron after her first two matches at Indian Wells and who holds the third most match wins this season, after Azarenka and Agnieszka Radwanska.
Azarenka is 21-0 so far this year, while Kerber is 19-4 this year. The pair has never met before, both had straight sets wins over their opponents in the quarterfinal matches. Let's have a look at their path to the semifinal.
Azarenka nearly lost her opener against Mona Barthel, but since then has not lost more than three games in a set, and has only lost her serve four times in her previous three matches. Azarenka has matched her previous best showing here at Indian Wells – 2009 when she lost in the semis to Vera Zvonareva, who went on to win the title.
Was Kerber's road to the semis full of roses or full of thorns?
Kerber had never been to the fourth round of Indian Wells, her previous best showing was the third round in 2008. This year she survived match points in the first two matches and then dismantled the reigining French Open champion to book a semifinal spot. Kerber is 3-1 against Top 10 players so far this year, and with matches where she survived match points and then a solid performance against Li, her confidence must be high.
INDIAN WELLS 2012 MATCH STATS FOR AZARENKA AND KERBER
Azarenka is averaging six double faults per match, while Kerber is averaging only one. It is interesting to note that all four of Kerber's double faults came in her match against Christina McHale.
Azarenka has a low-winning percentage on her second serve, whereas Kerber has won more than 50% of the second serves returned. Azarenka will definitely have to step up for her second serves. Kerber has been serving well, which is evident from the fact that she has saved 74% of the break points she has faced so far, but if we see the break point conversion rate for Azarenka, it is an impressive 62%, which means Kerber will have to be more cautious here. Kerber will also need to improve on her second serves as Azarenka has won a huge 60% of the second serves she returned.
All in all, if Kerber plays like she has been playing, this semifinal clash will be a treat for everyone. Do you expect her to stop Azarenka? (photos: Ralf Reinecke)