Thursday, 15 March 2012

Azarenka, the streaka or Kerber, the Iron nerved lady

The first semi-final pits Azarenka, the shrieka and the streaka against fast rising German, Kerber, who has shown that she has the nerves of iron after her first 2 matches here, and who holds the 3rd most match wins this season, after Azarenka and 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 quarter-final matches.

Let us have a look at their path to the Semi-final. First up is Azarenka:

Round  Opponent Ranking Final Score
2nd   Barthel   37 64 67(4) 76(6)
3rd   Kuznetsova   27 61 62
4th   Goerges   15 63 61
QF   Radwanska     5 60 62

Azarenka nearly lost her opener against Barthel, but since then has not lost more than 3 games in a set, and has only lost her serve for 4 times in her previous 3 matches. Azarenka with her win over Radwanska has tied Serena Williams for the best start to the season since Hingis's run of 37 consecutive matches in 1997. Serena set the record of 21 straight wins in 2003, the year when she won the Serena Slam. Azarenka has matched her previous best showing here at Indian Wells, with her SF showing this year (her previous showing coming in 2009 when she lost to Zvonareva who went on to win the title).

How does Kerber's road to semi-final look like?

Round  Opponent Ranking Final Score
2nd  Stephens    90 26 75 64
3rd  King    58 Walk Over
4th  Mchale    35 63 36 76(4)
QF  Li     8 64 62

Kerber had never been to the 4th round here prior to this year, her previous best showing coming here last year which was 3rd round, and here she is surviving match points in the first 2 matches she played here and then dismantling the reigining French Open champion to book a SF spot, her first SF here at Indian Wells.Kerber is 3-1 against the top 10 player so far this year, and with matches where she survived match points and then a solid performance against Li, must give her a huge confidence booster.


Let us have a look at the stats of the matches each has played so far here at Indian Wells.

Description Azarenka Kerber
1st serve percentage 69% 70%
%age of points won on first serve 67% 63%
%age of points won on 2nd serve 45% 52%
Break Points saved 55% 74%
1st return points won 47% 38%
2nd return points won 60% 55%
Break points Converted 62% 48%
Double Faults 24 4

Azarenka is averaging 6 double faults per match, while Kerber is averaging only 1 double fault per match, it is interesting to note that all 4 of kerber's double faults have come in her match against Mchale. Azarenka has a low winning percentage on her second serve, whereas Kerber has won more than 50% of the second serves returned in her matches so far, 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 has returned so far at this year's tournament. All in all, if Kerber plays like she has bee, it will be a treat for everyone.

Azarenka and Kerber are the only players left in the draw to have won a title in 2012 and they will be facing off each other for a spot in the final, which means we will have only one player left in the draw after this match who has won a title in 2012. Neither Kerber, nor Azarenka has ever been to the Indian Wells final before, which means we will see a first time finalist here at Indian Wells this year. With Li bowing out to Kerber, we now have only one reigning Grand Slam champion left in the draw, being Azarenka (Australian Open 2012).

Will it be Azarenka, the streaka or will it be Kerber, the iron nerved lady??? Who will walk off the court smiling? What do you say? 

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