Kerber more aggressive, will face Azarenka in Brisbane final


BRISBANE, Jan. 8, 2016 – Beginning in April 2015, Angie Kerber had a terrific year – except for the Slams. Now, somehow or someway, she has to go out there and rip the ball when it matters most.

In Brisbane, Kerber out-hit the fast but tired Carla Suarez Navarro 6-2 6-3  to reach the final. On Saturday, she will face Vika Azarenka, who clubbed the 20-yeat-old Samantha Crawford 6-0 6-3. Kerber has never beaten the former No. 1 Azarenka, losing five times, but nearly upending her in two extremely close classics, at the 2015 US Open 6-4 in the third set, and at 2012 in the WTA Championships, when the Belarussian came through 6-7 (13) 7-6 (2) 6-4. Kerber was so close, and she is so steady, but she could not kiss the lines when she needed it most.

Kerber is currently ranked No. 10 and by reaching the final, she will be ranked at least No. 8 when she arrives at the Australian Open. It’s hard to say right now how far she will go in Melbourne. But here is the situation: When she is feeling good, and she isn’t shaking in her boots, she can take more risks and exhaust her foes. Not only is she fast, but the lefty never gets tired. She can rip both her forehand and backhand, she loves to bang cross courts, and when she is super confidant, she will go down the line early.

However, her serve has been pretty weak over the years. She says that she is trying to improve that. But she has to prove that.

I feel that’s getting better,” Kerber said. “I worked a lot in my off-season on my serve, and I’m feeling that the serve is also a little bit faster. Also I’m trying to go for it with my second serve, not only pushing the ball. Of course that needs time. I think I’m on the good way. I’m feeling better on my serve.”

Even though Azarenka hasn’t won a tournament in two years, four months, the former No. 1 appears to be healthy and enthusiastic. On Saturday night, she is the favorite, but it should be extremely close. There will be dozens of long, hard-hitting rallies.

Azarenka know what’s coming, or so she says. “Not to say it in politically in correct way, but I think it’s kind of a trademark from Germany: steady and stable and tough,” the Belarussian said.

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