The pick of the bunch in the quarterfinals of the Toray Pan Pacific Open is fifth seed Madison Keys taking on fourth seed Angelique Kerber. The winner of this match will face either Japanese wild card Misaki Doi or Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the semifinals.
Keys' road to the quarterfinals
After reaching the fourth round of the US Open, Keys returned to action at this tournament and recorded her sixth win in as many meetings against Daria Kasatkina in the first round. Up against Zarina Diyas in the second round, the American fell behind early, dropping the first set before rallying to win in three to set up this quarterfinal clash against Kerber.
Kerber's road to the quarterfinals
The German received a first round bye by virtue of being seeded in the top four. Her second round match was against Nicole Gibbs, a match that Kerber won in straight sets. The win over Gibbs snapped a four-match losing streak for the three-time major champion, who hadn't won a match since Wimbledon and had not been past the second round of any event since Eastbourne.
This is the 11th career meeting between Keys and Kerber, with the German holding an 8-2 advantage. Seven of their previous ten matches have come on hard court. Keys' only two victories have come in three sets, five years ago in the final of Eastbourne and last year in the round of 16 in Cincinnati. Their last meeting was last year in Wuhan, with the American forced to retire down 6-0, 4-1.
Who will win?
The numbers say Kerber should win: as noted above, she's won eight of the previous ten matchups, is seeded higher and her counterpunching style plays perfectly against Keys' all-out aggression. However, Keys is in better form, having won in Cincinnati and despite a disappointing performance against Elina Svitolina in the fourth round, has looked relatively sharp recently.
The American has struggled with her biggest weapon this week at times: her serve. Kasatkina and Diyas have broken Keys multiple times, but she's been able to recover. In the end, Kerber is far from her best and while she'll take plenty of confidence in her past success against Keys, she's not playing well enough to fall behind and recover. Expect the fifth seed to take full advantage of that.
Prediction: Keys in straight sets