This is it, folks. The final is set. In an incredibly unsurprising turn of events, Serena Williams is in the Australian Open final. Experts and fans alike penciled her into the final before the tournament started. But her opponent? That was anyone’s guess. After 11 days of upsets and great matches, it is Germany’s Angelique Kerber who has earned the right to play Serena for her first Slam title. While she has played superb tennis thus far, as you can imagine, Serena is the resounding favorite. It will take nothing less than Kerber’s best, and more than likely, Serena’s worst, for the upset bid to become a reality. Let’s take a deeper look.
Kerber’s road to the final
Kerber is in the first Grand Slam final of her career, and is playing the best tennis of her life. In the third Slam semifinal of her career, she faced off against the Cinderella of the tournament, Johanna Konta, and she was the aggressor from the outset, winning in straight sets. Her biggest win of the tournament came in the quarterfinals, when she battled hard from the baseline to beat Vika Azarenka for the first time in her career. Vika served for the second set at 5-2, but Kerber played inspired tennis, winning 5 straight games to close out the match. It was very impressive tennis, and exactly the type of tennis she will need to play if she wants to have any chance against Serena.
Serena’s road to the final
Serena had a tough draw in the first round with a matchup against the dangerous Camila Giorgi. She found her rhythm early, however, and battled to a tough 6-4, 7-5 victory. Her game picked up steam after that as she breezed through the next five rounds with relative ease. She drew Radwanska in the semis, who had been playing great tennis. Unfortunately, she was no match. After a bagel in the first set, Radwanska showed some fight, but it was too little, too late, as she fell to the 21 time Grand Slam champ in just over an hour.
Their career head-to-head has been dominated by Serena. No surprises there as she has dominated almost every player she has ever faced off against. Kerber can take solace in the fact that she has defeated Serena once before, in 2012 in Cincinnati. Unfortunately, Serena has won the other 5 encounters in straight sets. More bad news for Kerber? Serena is 21-4 in Major finals in her career. Even worse news? In the last four years, she is a perfect 8-0. She saves her best for the biggest stages. Kerber’s battle will be uphill, to say the least. Kerber’s return is her best weapon. She has broken her opponent’s serve at least five times in each match this tournament, but she comes up against the best server in the game. That will likely negate her advantage, making this an even tougher task.
As well as Kerber is playing at the moment, this is just too much to ask from her. Serena’s incredible form, coupled with the pressure that Kerber will feel in her first Slam final, will sink the German player. Serena will start strong as she almost always does and take the first set easily. Expect Kerber to get her feet under her in the second, but don’t look for it to be enough.
Serena wins: 6-1, 6-4