Angelique Kerber vs Daria Kasatkina live stream: Kerber out to avenge two 2017 defeats to Kasatkina in Tokyo
Daria Kasatkina has beaten Angelique Kerber twice this season – can the former world no. 1 take revenge at the Toray Pan Pacific Open?
Kerber vs Kasatkina Toray Pan Pacific Open tennis is live from Tokyo on Wednesday at 6.30pm local/10.30am BST. Watch and bet on tennis live at bet365 > live streaming > tennis
After avenging one 2017 defeat at the hands of Naomi Osaka in the first round, former Toray Pan Pacific Open runner-up Angelique Kerber tries to regain the upper hand over another player who’s beaten her this season, young Russian Daria Kasatkina, in the second round in Tokyo on Wednesday.
Kerber has an excellent record at the Toray Pan Pacific Open, where she has gone 14-6 in previous appearances, without winning the title. The closest she came was in 2013, when she finished runner-up to Petra Kvitova, but Kerber also made the semifinals in 2012 (losing to Agnieszka Radwanska) and 2014 (losing to Ana Ivanovic). The German left-hander hasn’t failed to make the quarterfinals in Tokyo since 2011.
It's well-documented that Kerber has had a rough year, and the trajectory of her ranking makes it abundantly clear: From world no. 1 at the beginning of 2017 to her current position of world no. 14, her lowest since March 2015. After the exceptional season she enjoyed in 2016, a letdown was more or less inevitable, although I’m not sure anyone expected it to be quite this dramatic – Kerber is 26-18 and has made just one final, at the International-level Monterrey event (which she lost to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova), in 2017; one semifinal (at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships) and hasn’t been beyond the round of 16 in any Grand Slams. I thought there were definite signs of much better tennis from Kerber at Wimbledon, where she was only stopped by a dazzling performance from eventual champion Garbine Muguruza, but she went 1-3 on American hard courts and her showing in a 3-6, 1-6 defeat to Naomi Osaka in the first round of the US Open left much to be desired.
Kerber was much, much better against Osaka when they played in Tokyo, which made me recall how dramatically Muguruza’s own form improved once her French Open title defense ended in defeat. No longer world no. 1 or even in the top 10, with little to defend until the WTA Finals Singapore (although the fact that Kerber, who was runner-up at the season-ending championships in 2016, currently looks unlikely to make it back to the event spells danger for her ranking), maybe Kerber can find some release and form again. She certainly played like that was her intention against Osaka, taking a much more aggressive attitude to the match, refusing to be pushed back off the baseline and dictating points by using her left-handed cross-court angles and attacking down the lines – all things that were hallmarks of her tremendous 2016 season and which have been notably absent from many big matches she’s played in 2017.
‘It's always tough to play against her,’ Kerber said. ‘I was trying to come out here and really focus on every single point and make it better than last time ... She's a great player, great, talented player and tough opponent. For sure she will have great success in the future.’
Can Kerber do a similarly good job of learning from past defeats and reversing a run of play against her when she takes on Daria Kasatkina in the second round on Wednesday?
Twenty-year-old Kasatkina broke into the top 100 at the very end of 2015 after an insanely successful year on the ITF tour ended with a run to the third round of the US Open as a lucky loser and to the semifinals of the Premier-level Moscow event where she beat world no. 14 Carla Suarez Navarro. The Russian, one of a crop of tremendously talented youngsters, would shoot up to world no. 24 over the course of 2016, making the semifinals of the St Petersburg Open, the quarterfinals of Indian Wells, Charleston, Montreal, the Rio Olympics and Moscow, as well as the third rounds of the Australian and French Opens and Wimbledon.
After quarterfinal appearances in Sydney and Doha in the first few months of 2017, Kasatkina hit a new career peak when she claimed her maiden WTA title at the Premier-level Volvo Car Open on green clay in Charleston, beating Jelena Ostapenko in the final. Red clay did not go well for the Russian, however; she sustained an ankle injury in her opening match in Rome and although she made the third round at Roland Garros, and struggled for the next few weeks, failing to win back-to-back matches at Wimbledon, Toronto, Cincinnati and New Haven.
Kasatkina had a great US Open though, beating Wang Qiang and Christina McHale before scoring another straight-sets win over Ostapenko, who clearly struggles with her near-contemporary’s game. The Russian lost 4-6, 4-6 to Kaia Kanepi in the round of 16, but it was still a great run which bodes well for the rest of the season.
Kasatkina opened her Toray Pan Pacific Open campaign – the first time she has ever appeared at the Premier event- with a 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 victory over maddening qualifier Madison Brengle, and now looks for a third straight win over Kerber. The German had won their first meeting easily, 6-2, 6-2 in Montreal in 2016, but both their 2017 matches have gone Kasatkina’s way – not only gone her way, but contributed their mote to Kerber’s crisis of confidence this year: Kasatkina won 7-6(5), 6-2 in Sydney and 6-4, 0-6, 6-4 in Doha.
Kasatkina’s got a good, clever, all-court game, the kind that can be harder for Kerber to defuse than outright power hitters like Osaka, and it presents a very different challenge – but not one that should be insurmountable. If Kerber turns in another dictatorial, confident performance like the one she produced in the first round, I like her chances to make it back to the quarterfinals in Tokyo once more.
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