When: Saturday night, approx Midnight AEST
I made a comment earlier in the tournament that the biggest challenge between Serena Williams and the title from the quarter finals onwards was her match against Camila Giorgi, and I see no reason why my opinion on the matter should change now based on what I have seen. That was the one match where there was going to be stages where aspects of the match didn’t rest on her racquet, as Giorgi had some blistering moments throughout the match.
Serena has slowly built momentum across the tournament, and wins against Giorgi and Goerges over the last two matches will hold her in good stead here. Her timing of the ball has improved dramatically in the last 4 sets, and she will have more time on the ball today against Kerber, whose power and weight of shot doesn’t match Serena’s previous opponents. Whilst Kerber has her own strengths and areas that cause concern, Serena’s extra time to set herself on some shots will be a massive advantage for her throughout the match.
Whilst it is very impressive that Kerber has made the final here, it is another case of her fighting through some scratchy performances and building as the tournament has progressed. After defeating Zvonareva on the back of a superior break point conversion, she found herself in a massive fight with Junior Wimbledon winner Claire Liu in round 2, coming back from a set down. She was more convincing in Round 3 vs Osaka and Round 4 vs Bencic, before overcoming Kasatkina in a Quarter Final that was a bit closer than the scoreline suggests. I am not too sure we can read too much into the Semi Final, as more than half of the points won by Kerber were off Ostapenko unforced errors, something that she will not be afforded today. Kerber actually won a higher percentage of points on her second serve than first against Ostapenko, but I think the Ostapenko meltdown contributed to this quite a bit.
Ultimately, as good as Kerber is at retrieving, this match sits fairly and squarely on the racquet of Serena Williams. I think she is serving too well and striking the ball too well to not take the -3.5 game handicap here. If Serena can put 60+% of first serves into play, then I am confident that she will be able to cover the game handicap today.
My prediction: Williams to win in a 6-3 6-3 type scoreline.
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