Friday, 18 January 2013

Angelique Kerbs a young American

Progressively over the past few years the future of US women's tennis has been given cause for optimism.  Melanie Oudin, Vania King and Sloane Stephens have all had varying degrees and lengths of success and the latest bright light is shining from the racquet of Madison Keys.
Not yet 18 and playing her first Aus Open she defeated Casey Dellacqua in straight sets then smashed the 30th seed Austrian Tamira Paszek in round 2.
Her prize for all that good work? A third round clash with the top ranked German player and fifth seed Angelique Kerber.  Kerber who won more matches than anyone else in 2012 won another two here
very easily and is one top player that no one is rating a chance to win the Aus Open in 2013.  That could be a foolish oversight.

The nervous start to the match understandably felt by Keys was shared by Kerber and both players failed to hold serve for the first three games.  The shots were sometimes there - big ground strokes, sweet passing shots and deft touch, but all too inconsistent amongst a string of errors.

Kerber as to be expected settled first and once her game clicked the young American had some issues with which to deal.  Finding all the lines with surgeon like precision, the 5th seed held serve and with few unforced errors then raced to a 5-1 advantage.  Madison, whose speed across the court is deceptive given her rangy build, played a great seventh game to hold serve, some of the passing shots up in the Kerber class.

While too late and insufficient to prevent the set being delivered to Germany, it reaffirmed the massive potential of the American.
6-2 Kerber, but if the errors could be reduced the American posed a dangerous threat.

Set 2 began with Keys again dropping serve, but looking much better in doing so if that makes sense.  Her tennis now matched Kerber because she had reined in her errors without reducing the attacking style which had brought her so many delightful winners.
Again as in the first set Kerber lost her initial serve so we had 1-1.
Top notch tennis as even Kerber was sending more clean winners to all parts than usual - the Keys factor was infectious.
Games went with serve until 3-3 where Madison found trouble again facing multiple break points.  This time she was equal to the task and taking a 4-3 lead into the eighth game now could reasonably fancy her chances of winning the set.
Kerber on serve was now the one with the problem as a break point stared her in the eyes.  This she saved or rather it was saved for her by a Madison Keys back hand floating long.  Deuce and the spots of precipitation which had been soothing developed into enough of a rain fall to cause play to be delayed and the roof to be closed.  Not the interruption for a server at deuce to want.

Back after the short interlude Kerber had no problem with the final two points to level at 4-4 and Keys put further pressure on by holding to 5-4.
Cool with the knowledge that she had a set in the bank, Angelique held easily and then at 0-30 Madison netted a simple overhead which proved fatal as the break came.

Kerber served for the match and Keys made her work hard taking her to 15-40 with great running and punishing ground strokes.  One break point saved with a stunning pass, the next with an errant Keys shot.  A further wild shot from the American set up match point and one was all that Angelique required.   6-2 7-5 and a wonderful birthday present.

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