Denisa Allertova recorded the biggest casualty of the tournament thus far on Saturday afternoon, sending reigning Australian Open champion and number two seed Angelique Kerber packing with a 7-5, 7-5 victory at the 2016 BNP Paribas Open. The world number 64 has yet to drop a set all tournament, and will be looking to build on the biggest win of her career when she takes on 25th seed Johanna Konta next Monday.
Allertova Earns Decisive Break Late in First Set
If the early exchanges were any indication of how this second round encounter would play out, tennis fans were going to be in for a fascinating encounter. With Allertova's flat, clean ball striking and Kerber's world-class defence, it was difficult to uncover who had the early edge.
After exchanging breaks in the first two games, the rest of the set went with serve up until the twelfth game, where Allertova was knocking on the door once more from the service line. Having not faced any break points since her first service game, the Czech number five was able to hold relatively comfortably before focusing all of her attention to get that elusive break. However, Kerber had remained calm under pressure, delivering the goods and moving the 23-year-old from side-to-side before delivering the final blow.
But this time, Allertova hadn't read the script. Leading 6-5, the Czech raised her level when it mattered most, playing a very proactive and high percentage brand of tennis that forced her German counterpart to scramble from side-to-side time and time again. When given two opportunities to close out the opening set, it was a case of second time lucky for the world number 64 as she hit a stunning backhand passing shot to seal the opening set 7-5 in 54 minutes.
Allertova Recovers from Late Deficit in Second Set to Send Kerber Packing
The second set began much like the majority of the first, with both players exchanging a couple of holds each. However, Kerber was slow but surely beginning to make her move from the receiving end, and there was little Allertova could do to stop it. Having come back from 0-30 down to hold a game prior, the reigning Australian Open champion hit some blistering return winners en route to initiating the first break of the set, consequently giving herself a precious 3-2 advantage. From there, the German continued her forward momentum by consolidating the break to lead 4-2, with the help of some exquisite shot making. Not to be outdone, the Czech number five responded with a hold of her own to stay in touch with the world number two.
In the games that followed suit, the pair continued to hold their respective service games before Allertova found herself in a spot of bother, trailing 3-5, 15-40 on her own serve. In danger of losing the second set, the Czech refused to back down, saving both set points with conviction en route to holding and forcing the German to serve out the set.
Much to her dismay, those missed opportunities to close out the set came back to haunt Kerber a game later, as she was broken while serving to force a decider. Now with the momentum on her side, Allertova continued to impress; her ruthless ball striking causing Kerber all sorts of trouble as she held at love to go up 6-5. Suddenly, it was the world number two who went from serving for the set to serving to stay in the match within a matter of minutes.
Unfortunately for the reigning Australian Open champion, she was unable to put up any resistance to stop the momentum of Allertova, who won her fourth game in a row as a Kerber forehand sailed long, to seal a hard-fought 7-5, 7-5 victory in an hour and 38 minutes.
"I just tried to play and just focus on every point, tried moving and playing into the court… I don't know, I just tried to play my best!" Allertova said moments after her victory. "Just amazing feelings right now because she's an amazing player."
"I tried to play my best and I'm so happy that I won today. It's an amazing feeling."
Next Up for Allertova: Johanna Konta
Next up for Allertova is 25th seed Johanna Konta, who was a straight sets winner against Madison Brengle a little earlier in the day. The pair have split their two previous meetings, with Konta winning their most recent encounter at this year's Australian Open - where she would go on to make the semifinals.