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Kerber vs Azarenka tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Kerber must beat fellow major champion to make third WTA Monterrey final

Hannah Wilks in WTA Tour 6 Apr 2019
  • Angelique Kerber faces Victoria Azarenka in the semifinals of the Abierto GNP Seguros
  • Kerber vs Azarenka is live from Monterrey on Saturday at 5pm local/12am BST
Angelique Kerber

With five Grand Slam titles between them, fellow former world no. 1s Angelique Kerber and Victoria Azarenka face off in the Monterrey semifinals.

A clash between multiple Grand Slam champions beckons in the Abierto GNP Seguros semifinals as Angelique Kerber takes on Victoria Azarenka for a place in the Monterrey final.

Reigning Wimbledon champion Kerber lost the only International-level match she played in 2018 when she went down to Alison Riske in Mallorca, but she has been very much in charge of things in Monterrey, where she is looking to reach her second final of 2019 after finishing runner-up to Bianca Andreescu at Indian Wells.

Angelique Kerber
Kerber, who finished runner-up to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in Monterrey in 2013 and again in 2017, hasn’t dropped a set on the way to the semifinals at the Abierto GNP Seguros, beating qualifier Kristina Kucova 7-6(4), 6-2, Karolina Muchova 6-3, 6-4 and finally veteran Kirsten Flipkens 6-2, 6-4.

Kerber had never lost to Flipkens coming into Friday’s quarterfinal clash and never looked in the slightest danger of blemishing her perfect record against the Belgian, losing just three points behind her first serve and five behind her second serve throughout the 68-minute match. Kerber never faced a break point while creating eight break points on Flipkens’ serve, converting five of them. 

‘It's always tough to play against her. She’s a really tricky opponent with a lot of experience,’ Kerber said.

‘We know each other very well. I was just trying to play my game and it's great to be in the semifinals here again.’

Now 16-6 in 2019, Kerber is into the third semifinal of her season after getting that far in Doha, where she lost to Elise Mertens, and at Indian Wells, where she beat Belinda Bencic – how will she fare against Victoria Azarenka in Monterrey?

Azarenka has been making her debut at the Abierto GNP Seguros this week, and so far, it’s gone pretty well. The Belarusian hasn’t dropped a set in victories over qualifier Miyu Kato, Zarina Diyas and four-time Monterrey champion Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, losing a combined total of 15 games at the tournament so far.

Victoria Azarenka
‘It was a great match and I'm very happy with the level of tennis that I showed today,’ Azarenka said happily after beating Pavlyuchenkova 6-0, 6-4.

‘Playing Anastasia here, she's done such an amazing job, so I knew I had to come out playing my best tennis. Today I really stepped it up a level.’

There have been plenty of times recently when it has seemed that Azarenka has turned a corner away from the travails of recent seasons, only for the two-time Grand Slam champion to slip backwards again. After struggling with injury and the comeback from it, she went 26-3 in a brilliant half-season in 2016, winning Brisbane, Indian Wells and Miami, but then missed a year of competition due to maternity leave, and her comeback was complicated by a custody battle. When she finally rejoined the tour last March, a semifinal run in Miami raised expectations that Azarenka would simply race back to the top, but it proved to be another false start as she struggled throughout the rest of the year, finishing her season after Tokyo 17-12. 

After winning just one of her first four matches of 2019, Azarenka got back-to-back wins for the first time in Acapulco where she made the quarterfinals, crushing Danielle Collins on the way, but was edged by Sofia Kenin. She was brilliant in a 5-7, 3-6 defeat by Serena Williams at Indian Wells, and looked great at times in a win over Dominika Cibulkova in Miami, but went down 3-6, 4-6 to Caroline Garcia – not a player in much form – in the next round.

This is the first time in just over a year that Azarenka has won three matches in a row, and she will be desperate to keep this run going and make her first WTA final since Miami 2016.

‘I feel really excited and I want to keep going. It's another step on my journey, with the progress I've been doing, I'm glad that I'm able to progress in matches now,’ Azarenka said.

‘I've been doing a lot of this in practice, but couldn't really bring the results into matches, so I'm happy that I'm able to do things better in matches.’

It’s going to be really exciting to see Azarenka resume her rivalry with Kerber. The Belarusian leads their overall head-to-head 7-1 and won the first six matches they played against each other, winning ten of 12 sets in the process. But Kerber beat Azarenka in the quarterfinals of the 2016 Australian Open on her way to her first major title, and they have only played once subsequently – in Miami a few months later. Kerber is a much more aggressive player than she was when the majority of their matches took place, and that makes it much more difficult for Azarenka – a player who relies on being able to dictate points without being a particularly heavy or explosive hitter – to control the tempo of the match. While Azarenka is 64-67 against top-10 players, she hasn’t beaten one since last March and Kerber is just more used to playing at a consistently high level. Will that be the difference?

Kerber vs Azarenka Abierto GNP Seguros tennis is live from Monterrey on Saturday at 5pm local/12am BST

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Kerber vs Azarenka tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Kerber must beat fellow major champion to make third WTA Monterrey final

Angelique Kerber vs Victoria Azarenka live streaming, preview and predictions for the WTA Monterrey semifinal match on Saturday 6 April: Azarenka has a 7-1 record vs Kerber but this is only their second meeting since Kerber became a Grand Slam champion

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