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Kerber vs Williams tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Venus Williams takes on Wimbledon champion Kerber at Indian Wells

Hannah Wilks in WTA Tour 13 Mar 2019
  • Angelique Kerber faces Venus Williams in the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open
  • Kerber vs Williams is live from Indian Wells on Thursday at 5pm local/12am GMT
Angelique Kerber (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)

Can Angelique Kerber maintain her winning record against Venus Williams and reach the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open for the first time in five years?

Former world no. 1s face off as Venus Williams takes on Angelique Kerber for a place in the final four at Indian Wells.

Kerber's trademark defense (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)
Despite the defeats of current world no. 1 Naomi Osaka and the only woman who could have displaced her from the top spot this week, Simona Halep, the BNP Paribas Open draw still sports four players who have been ranked world no. 1 as the tournament enters its quarterfinal stages: Garbine Muguruza in the bottom half of the draw; Karolina Pliskova, a potential semifinal opponent for the winner of this particular match; and, facing off in the quarterfinals, Venus Williams and Angelique Kerber.

Both women have been to the semifinals of Indian Wells before: Williams in 1998 and 2001, and then again in 2018 after she ended her lengthy boycott of the tournament; and Kerber in 2012 and 2013, losing to Caroline Wozniacki and Victoria Azarenka respectively.

And both women have had to work extremely hard to put themselves within touching distance of the semifinals once more. Kerber, playing her fifth event of 2019 and looking for her second semifinal of the season after some disappointing early exits such as her fourth-round Australian Open defeat to Danielle Collins, dropped just two games in her opening match against Yulia Putintseva and had to come back from a set down against qualifier Natalia Vikhlyantseva in the third round, but by far her toughest test came against Aryna Sabalenka in the round of 16. Playing Sabalenka, who stormed into the top 10 with a spectacular late surge in 2018 and is currently ranked world no. 9, for the first time, Kerber had little trouble out-steadying the powerful but sometimes erratic Belarusian in the first set to lead 6-1, but had little response once Sabalenka started playing much more measured and clever tennis from midway through the second set to level up and speed to a 4-1 lead in the decider. It was Kerber’s trademark tenacity which enabled her to take advantage of Sabalenka’s nerves as the left-hander won the last five games of the match to secure her first win over a top-10 opponent since last year’s WTA Finals Singapore.

‘For sure it was the toughest match of the tournament for me,’ Kerber said afterwards. ‘It was an up and down match, a lot of emotions on court. I played really well in the first set, she came back really strong. The third set, I think it was just another fight and another comeback from me.

‘I was trying to play every single point and still believing that I could turn around the match. I think in the end it was a fight to win the match.’

A win like that over a top-10 opponent should boost Kerber after an unimpressive start to 2019, but the reigning Wimbledon champion will know she faces a huge test in the form of Venus Williams in the quarterfinals.

Williams’s own amazing comeback came earlier in the tournament. The American, who had played just two events so far in 2019, both in January, seemed to be struggling badly with illness in her first-round clash with Andrea Petkovic, toughing out a 6-4, 0-6, 6-3 victory. And when she trailed Australian Open finalist Petra Kvitova by a set and two breaks, nobody was really surprised as Williams looked to be still feeling the after-effects or just effects of that illness. 

Venus Williams (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
But when Kvitova opened the door a crack with a sloppy service game, Williams suddenly found some energy from somewhere and kicked it wide open, winning seven of the last nine games to level the match, then coming from a break down in the decider to claim the win, 4-6, 7-5, 6-4. 

Williams hasn’t dropped a set since then, managing to snuff out a gallant second set from Christina McHale to win 6-2, 7-5, then ousting Mona Barthel 6-4, 6-4 to remain unbeaten against the German.

‘I was pretty determined this year,’ Williams said. ‘I haven't played that much, so I wanted to make it count. It's not going to get any easier from here, so I just have to continue to raise my game.
‘I was really impressed with her game. I was happy to come through. It wasn't easy.’

With the BNP Paribas Open now guaranteed a new WTA champion for the fifth time in six years, Williams looks as likely a contender as anybody else (and a good deal likelier than some). But she does have a losing record against Kerber, trailing the left-hander 3-5 in the head-to-head. Williams has won two of the last three they have played on hard courts, but before Miami in 2017 they had not played since 2014 and Kerber won the last one, 5-7, 6-3, 6-1 in Sydney last year.

‘It will be another tough battle but I’m looking forward to playing against Venus again,’ Kerber said. ‘Of course, this match gives me lots of confidence that I can still turn around matches.

‘It will be a completely new match, we are starting both from zero. She’s an inspiration for so many players and people out there - I think it will be a good match.’

I’m excited. For my money, Williams has been playing much the better tennis so far at Indian Wells, with her backhand particularly sublime. But fatigue is an issue for the 38-year-old American, particularly the deeper she goes in tournaments, and particularly against an opponent like Kerber, who makes you work for absolutely everything and is entirely capable of hanging around until the balance of winners an unforced errors swings in her favour for an extended enough period to see her take the match. One disregards form at one’s peril, however, and Williams has the form.

Kerber vs Williams BNP Paribas Open tennis is live from Indian Wells on Thursday at 5pm local/12am GMT

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Kerber vs Williams tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Venus Williams takes on Wimbledon champion Kerber at Indian Wells

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