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Kerber vs Riske tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Zhengzhou wildcard Kerber takes on in-form Alison Riske

Hannah Wilks in WTA Tour 9 Sep 2019
  • Angelique Kerber faces Alison Riske in the first round of the Zhengzhou Open
  • Kerber vs Riske is live from Zhengzhou on Tuesday at 7pm local/12pm BST
Angelique Kerber (PA Sports)

On a four-match losing streak, struggling Angelique Kerber looks for a confidence-boosting win as she begins her Zhengzhou Open campaign against Alison Riske.

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Angelique Kerber took a wildcard into the Zhengzhou Open – will that decision pay off as she opens against the in-form Alison Riske on Wednesday?

Kerber was not originally slated to play Zhengzhou, the former WTA 125k upgraded to a Premier-level event under the name of the ICBC Credit Card Zhengzhou Open in 2019, but took a wildcard after Simona Halep withdrew due to an ankle injury.

Kerber battled hard but lost in the first round of the US Open (PA Sports)
It’s not surprising that Kerber should have opted to take this wildcard. The former world no. 1 is not having a good season, and it’s only getting worse. Wimbledon champion in 2018, Kerber has yet to win a title in 2019, although she did make the finals of Indian Wells and Eastbourne, losing to Bianca Andreescu and Karolina Pliskova respectively; she was also a semifinalist in Doha, Mallorca and Monterrey. 

But the pressure of defending a Grand Slam title, or trying to, doesn’t seem to have sat any better with her this year than it did in 2017 when she plummeted down the rankings after her stellar two-Slam season in 2016. Since losing to Pliskova in the Eastbourne final, Kerber is just 1-4. She defeated Tatjana Maria in the first round of Wimbledon, but lost to the USA’s Lauren Davis in the second, and went on to lose all three matches she played on North American hard courts: To Daria Kasatkina at the Rogers Cup in Toronto, Anett Kontaveit in Cincinnati and finally to Kristina Mladenovic at the US Open.

Little was expected of Kerber at the US Open and that was a tough draw to face Mladenovic in the first round, but still, these are not the results one expects from a player of her calibre.
Currently coachless – she split with former ATP pro Rainer Schuettler after her disastrous Wimbledon – Kerber is actually still in with a chance of making the season-ending championships, coming into Zhengzhou at world no. 15 in the Porsche Road to Shenzhen with only one player (Ashleigh Barty) qualified so far. But she would need a big Asian swing, and Kerber has never won a title in this part of the season, although she has reached the finals of Tokyo, Hong Kong and the WTA Finals in Singapore.

Alison Riske, on the other hand, has played some great tennis in this part of the world. One of the American’s two career WTA Tour titles came in Tianjin in 2014, and she has built up a great record at the Shenzhen Open, reaching the finals of the season-opening event in 2016-17 and 2019.

Currently ranked world no. 36, matching a career-high ranking she originally achieved in May 2017, Riske is having a great season while Kerber is slumping. The 29-year-old American with the flat forehand and aggressive game actually dropped out of the top 100 in 2018 but was already on her way back up when she started the season at world no. 62 and after her Shenzhen runner-up finish and reaching the third round of Dubai, was back in the top 50 by the end of February. 

Alison Riske (PA Sports)
It was on grass, however, that Riske’s season really took off. The American has always been known for getting her best results on that surface, and 2019 took it to new heights as she went 14-2 on grass, compiling a ten-match winning streak to win the ITF $100K Surbiton title and WTA Tour title in ‘s-Hertogenbosch back to back – beating then-world no. 4 Kiki Bertens at the latter – before ousting Donna Vekic, Belinda Bencic and world no. 1 Ashleigh Barty as well as Ivana Jorovic to make her first ever Grand Slam quarterfinal at Wimbledon. 

Riske’s Wimbledon run came to an end when she lost to Serena Williams in that quarterfinal, although not before taking a set, but she has carried through some of that momentum on to hard courts, winning three matches in Toronto to qualify for the main draw and reach the second round with a victory over Maria Sakkari before losing in three sets to Karolina Pliskova. She lost in the first round of Cincinnati to Maria Sharapova, but got an excellent, hard-fought win over Garbine Muguruza in the first round of the US Open before losing to Jelena Ostapenko.

This will be the fourth meeting between Kerber and Riske, and it’s the 31-year-old German who has had the best of their previous encounters, leading the head-to-head 3-1. Kerber’s wins did come quite a while ago, though – in 2010 and 2014 – and Riske won their most recent encounter in 2018, although that match was on grass in Mallorca. With the way Kerber is flailing right now, I don’t think a victory for Riske is at all out of the question. She plays a very aggressive game, which can be effective against Kerber if executed well enough and if the German is stuck in retrieving mode, and she’s a great competitor who is high on confidence. This trip to Zhengzhou might end quite abruptly for Kerber.

Kerber vs Riske Zhengzhou Open tennis is live from Zhengzhou on Wednesday at 7pm local/12pm BST

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Kerber vs Riske tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Zhengzhou wildcard Kerber takes on in-form Alison Riske

Angelique Kerber vs Alison Riske live streaming, preview and predictions for the WTA Zhengzhou first-round match on Tuesday 10 September: Can slumping Kerber snap a four-match losing streak as she faces aggressive Riske at new Premier event?

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