The final night match in Monterrey will feature the current world number 1 Angelique Kerber and the retiring Italian Francesca Schiavone later today. This is the last first round match of the tournament and it is Kerber who enters this match-up as the HEAVY favourite.
Kerber has been playing some good tennis but she hasn’t been able to get results anything near the results she got last year. After a disappointing Australia, it only got worse in Doha as she fell in the second round but then she achieved her best result of the year as she reached the semifinals in the Premier 5 event in Dubai. She followed that up with a fourth exit in Indian Wells to eventual champion, Elena Vesnina, and then reached the quarterfinals of Miami. Her results have been good but not as good as you would expect from a world number 1. Schiavone has had a dismal start to her final year on the tour as she has failed to make it past the first round at any of the 7 tournaments she’s played. She fell in straight sets in the first round in Taipei, Acapulco and Indian Wells, which she had to qualify for. Even worse than that she didn’t even make it through qualifying in Miami, as she went down to Kurumi Nara in the second round of qualifying.
Angelique Kerber has played here twice before in her career, in 2011 and 2013, but has played Charleston the other years. Her best result was when she reached the final in 2013 before falling to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in three sets. Her worst result was in 2011 when she fell in the first round to Polona Hercog in straight sets. This shows she is relatively comfortable at the tournament but she also hasn’t played her for a long time. Francesca Schiavone has played here for the played here for the past two years but has never even made it to the quarterfinals. In 2015, she made it to the second round before falling to Caroline Garcia and last year she fell in the first round to Kirsten Flipkens. Having only won one match here ever, I don’t think Schiavone will go in feeling confident and that will play in to the hands of Kerber.
Head To Head Record
These two have played each other five times over the course of their careers and Schiavone leads their head to head 3-2. Kerber has been the stronger of the two in more recent times as most of the matches after 2011, when Schiavone last had success at a grand slam, have gone the way of the German. In 2013, they played in the second round of Miami and Kerber came out on top with a 6-7(7-9), 6-3, 6-2 win. In 2015 they played twice, Schiavone won the Antwerp second round 6-1, 6-1 and Kerber won the Hong Kong first round 6-7(7-9), 6-2, 6-3. All of their meeting have been on hard courts so there is nothing different about today. I think that the head to head might be on their minds today but it doesn’t really favour anyone greatly so I don’t think it will have a massive impact on the match.
Kerber will come out with nerves, which she often has this season, and Schiavone will break early to go up 0-2 or 0-3. It won’t take Kerber long to get into her rhythm and she will eventually break back and level the score at 4-4. From there, Schiavone might tighten up and Kerber will get another break to win the set or she will break and then serve out the the 6-4 set. Kerber will take her momentum and rhythm into the second set and Schiavone will start to tire and not run to get to as many balls as she was in the first set. Schiavone will only managed to get one service hold on the way to Kerber taking the set and match quite comfortably 6-4, 6-1. This will be a good win for Kerber as she will be feeling confident heading in to her next match against Mandy Minella.