Angelique Kerber continues to struggle to find her 2016 sweet spot, as she blasted her way out of Indian Wells, losing to Daria Kasatkina 6-0, 6-2.
20-year-old Kasatkina hit heavy topspin in the altitude– and used her kick serve effectively– to give the ball a monster bounce in this quarterfinal match at the BNP Paribas Open. Kerber, a former #1 currently ranked #10 in the world, could not find a good mix of aggression and defense.
Aggression for Kerber is like cooking with garlic– just a little produces an exquisite dish. Too much ruins the whole meal.
Angelique Kerber overhits herself right out of Indian Wells
Before her breakout year, Angelique Kerber was known as a counterpuncher extraordinaire with good mental toughness. But she wasn’t seen as a threat to win Grand Slams. Then came 2016 titles at the Australian Open and US Open. She was a backboard and simply did not miss shots. She cracked the Serena Williams code that year, beating her in Melbourne and unseating her as the #1 player in the world.
Was it a fluke year? Possibly. A major backslide followed. Point of comparison: In 2016, her record against top 20 opponents was a stellar 24-9. In 2017, it slipped to 1-12.
She has yet to regain the right feel for how power on her strokes and aggressive court positioning fit into her game. Kerber overhit badly in this match, trying to control Kasatkina’s high bouncing balls in breezy, hot conditions.
The Russian’s topspin forehand trajectory was a full 14 inches higher than Kerber’s.
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Daria Kasatkina reaching new heights
Kasatkina punctuated her excellent serving day with a kicker ace out wide on match point.
“When I went to serve I was not thinking about anything,” Kasatkina said. The world #19 looked loose and relaxed in knocking off her 3rd consecutive Grand Slam champion here at Indian Wells. She beat Sloane Stephens and Caroline Wozniacki to reach the quarterfinal.
Before coming here, she’s racked up wins against other Slam champs Jelena Ostapenko and Garbine Muguruza, as well as Simona Halep.
Kasatkina’s impressive resume is building rapidly.
She says her main focus at the moment is “Getting experience, playing against the best players, learning from them.”
No better place to do it than the desert and Venus Williams is available for a match.
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