One Step Away:
The First Match Will Produce an Unexpected Finalist while the Second Will Tell us Who Won the 1st Phase of 2016 on the WTA Tour
Both players have defied the odds in reaching the semifinal round. There is a lot to like about Bacsinszky’s game and story. Still, I think Kuznetsova has shown she is in fighting form this week. If Kuznetsova maintains her recent level of play, I think her relatively complete heavy baseline game will lead to a tight straight set win.
Azarenka won Brisbane and Indian Wells. Kerber won the Australian Open and was runner-up in Brisbane. They have split their 2 matches this year with Kerber winning their more significant match in Melbourne. If Kerber wins this match, she will add at worst a Miami runner-up finish to her shocking Australian Open triumph. This might be enough to cement Kerber’s status as a top tier player for the next 18-36 months. If Azarenka wins, she will have a great chance at claiming her second consecutive really big title of 2016. Both players have a realistic chance to finish 2016 ranked #1 in the world. Therefore, this duel takes on even greater importance. A Vika win might make her Aussie Open loss to Kerber look like an anomaly on her comeback trail. Kerber winning would send the message that their rivalry has changed at a fundamental level.
I think both players will know what to expect on court today. Vika’s serve is slightly better than Kerber’s and her momentum from Indian Wells is real. For that reason, I pick Victoria Azarenka to win in 2 close sets.