Angelique Kerber vs. Madison Keys 2016 WTA Championships Pick, Odds, Prediction
Keys vs. Kerber
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Angelique Kerber and Madison Keys meet Thursday in the third match of the tennis 2016 WTA Championships.
Angelique Kerber is coming off a straight sets win over Simona Halep that took 18 games to decide. In the victory, Kerber won 70 percent of her first serve points and 52 percent of her second serve points. Kerber was much better with her serve against a tougher opponent in the second match and seems like that hunger is still there for her to finish the season on a strong note. Kerber has obviously had the best season of any player on tour, but there was some worry she was getting tired after some sloppy play in her last few matches. Kerber has to be the favorite to win this tournament as long as her serve holds up. Kerber has never made it out of the round robin stages of the WTA Finals and just needs to win a set in this match to snap that streak. Kerber has won 12 of her last 15 matches on hard court.
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Madison Keys is coming off a straight sets win over Dominika Cibulkova that took 17 games to decide. In the victory, Keys won 86 percent of her first serve points and 67 percent of her second serve points. Keys was much better with her service game in her second match and won 43 percent of her return points as well. Of course, Keys usually controls the way the match is going to go, as she can beat anybody with ease when the unforced errors are limited, or she can give points away with sloppy play. It all comes down to if Keys is able to manage her overwhelming power and play within herself. As long as Keys doesn’t try to hit winners on every point, she has a chance anytime she takes the court. Keys has to win this match in straight sets in order to advance in her first WTA Finals appearance. Keys won seven of her last 10 matches on hard court.
These two have played six times in the past and Kerber has won five of those meetings. The most recent match came in this year's olympics, a match Kerber won in straight sets. Kerber is 4-0 against Keys on hard court and her only loss to the American came in the 2014 Eastbourne International.
Keys may be worth a play here given the motivation, as the American needs to dominate this match to advance and Kerber just needs to win a set. We’ve seen Kerber come up small in big moments this season and let’s not act like she didn’t lose three of her last seven matches heading into this tournament. However, the head to head numbers stand out and Kerber is the type of player who makes you play rallies and hit extra balls if you want to win. That’s where Keys tends to struggle.
I’d like to see Keys compete and find a way to advance, but the smart bet would be to back Kerber in this match.