Both players are looking to use 2018 to erase the poor ending of their 2017 season and Angelique Kerber has started on the right foot. Kerber won the title in Sydney and got to the quarterfinals at the Australian Open. In contrast, Johanna Konta continues to struggle with her form. The Qatar Total Open is a WTA Premier 5 event, which has a higher number of ranking points the further players go in the draw.
Konta was hoping to benefit from these points and she started the match well. She played attacking and precise tennis, taking Kerber by surprise in the first set. There was not much that Kerber could do as the depth and pace of Konta’s shots kept her pinned in the back court. Despite that, Kerber kept fighting, forcing Konta to hit one more shot to win the point. Konta needed six set points to secure the 6-1 first set victory.
Photo Source: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images-Angelique Kerber reacts after losing the first set.
Complete reversal of roles in set two by Kerber
Kerber was ranked number one because of her tenacity and her ability to fight when the match was not going in her favor. She did just that in the second set and it started with cutting down on her unforced errors and introducing more variety in her shots. She became the attacker, using her forehand effectively to disrupt Konta’s game plan. The Brit started pressing a bit too much and her unforced errors increased. Konta had an opportunity to turn the second set around; however, Kerber denied her by serving brilliantly. The second set was won by the German with the identical score of the first, 6-1.
Photo Source: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images AsiaPac-Angelique Kerber shows her determination.
Third set drama
As the pressure mounted, Konta’s game unraveled. Shots that were winners in the first set were going wide or landing in the net. The tension was apparent and Kerber sensing her opponent was getting anxious kept applying the pressure. On her first break opportunity, she broke to take the early 1-0 lead.
Konta mounted a mini-comeback though and broke back in the sixth game to get the match back on serve; however, the pressure took a toll and she was broken immediately at love to give the German the lead once again.
While Kerber’s forehand became a weapon in the latter stages of the match; Konta’s became a liability. A string of forehand errors as she tried to extend the match was her undoing with her last forehand error landing in the net to give Kerber the 1-6, 6-1, 6-3 victory.
Photo Source: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images AsiaPac-disappointed Johanna Konta.
Former number one to battle current number one
Kerber will get a chance to increase her number of victories in 2018 when she faces the current number one, Caroline Wozniacki, in the quarterfinals. They are familiar foes, with Kerber leading their head-to-head 8:5.