In what promises to be an exciting clash, Angelique Kerber, twice a Grand Slam champion and a finalist at the Championships in 2016, takes on the rising star from Russia Daria Kasatkina, who earlier this season reached the final in Indian Wells and also made the last eight in Paris. After Pliskova’s exit on Manic Monday, Kerber finds herself the highest seed left in the tournament and with a real chance of winning the title. But the outcome of her match with Kasatkina is far from a given.
Kerber and Kasatkina have developed a fine rivalry over the past two years, with their head-to-head tied at three wins apiece. Their first meeting went the way of Kerber as she won 6-2 6-2 in the quarterfinals at the Canadian Open in 2016. Kasatkina had her revenge a year later, defeating Kerber in straight sets in the second round in Sydney 7-6 6-2, and beat her again shortly after in Doha again in straight sets. But Kerber won their third meeting of 2017 in Tokyo 7-6 6-3.
They have met twice so far this year, with Kasatkina winning the first clash in Indian Wells in the quarterfinals 6-0 6-2 during her magical run to the final in the California desert. Their most recent meeting came in the quarterfinals in Eastbourne, and it was a thriller, which may bode well for this match. Kerber made a fast start, winning the first set 6-1, and then survived a spirited comeback from Kasatkina to triumph 6-1 6-7 7-6.
Path to the quarterfinals
Kerber began her Wimbledon campaign against another former finalist, Vera Zvonareva, the first time two runners-up had clashed in the first round. Kerber came through fairly comfortably, winning 7-5 6-3, before rallying from a set down to oust 2017 junior champion Claire Liu 3-6 6-2 6-4. She then dismissed the challenge of Japan’s 18th seed Naomi Osaka with surprising ease, winning 6-2 6-4 to set up a clash with Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic, who she beat 6-3 7-6 to reach the quarterfinals.
Kasatkina, the 14th seed, opened her Championships with a 6-2 7-5 victory over Croatia’s Jana Fett. That set up a clash with Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva, who also came into Wimbledon off the back of a run to the Roland Garros quarters but offered little challenge to Kasatkina, losing 2-6 3-6. The Russian then bested 17th seed Ashleigh Barty 7-5 6-2 to reach the second week. On Manic Monday she overcame Muguruza’s conqueror Alison Van Uytvanck from a set down 6-7 6-3 6-2.
How do they match up?
Both Kerber and Kasatkina are dangerous baseliners, who though amongst the biggest hitters are formidably accurate off both wings. They also both move well, and excel at turning defence into attack, particularly when pushed out wide on their forehand sides. Kasatkina also has excellent feel, and look for the Russian to look to bring the drop shot into play often on her backhand side, which could serve her well by disrupting Kerber’s rhythm from the back of the court.
There looks to be very little to separate this pair, and all of their matches bar their first and Kasatkina’s crushing Indian Wells victory have been competitive. But in Kerber’s favour is her greater grass court experience and a slightly better serve. That does not give her much of an advantage, but in a sport where the margins between victory and defeat are often razor thin, it will be enough. Just as she did in Eastbourne, expect Kerber to win through after a tight three-set battle.