Round of 16. Day 4. Angelique Kerber

Sports Host Andy Taylor. Qatar Total Open 2018. Round of 16. Day-4. Angelique Kerber

Sports Host. Andy Taylor. Qatar Total Open 2018 / Photo: Jimmie48 Tennis Photography
[8] Angelique Kerber -09- (GER) def [10] Johanna Konta -11- (GBR) 16 61 63

Welcome to the Round of 16’s main event, featuring the World #11 Johanna Konta and the surging World #9 Angelique Kerber. Before ball-up, their 4th career encounter was already packed with intrigue.

Jo Konta splits with Wim Fissette

Last year, Konta scored some of the biggest wins of her career under coach Wim Fissette’s wing. For the first time, she started the season ranked inside the top-10. By June, she’d won her second and third career titles in Sydney and Miami, then reached her third Final of 2017 in Nottingham.

At Eastbourne, she earned her first career win over World #1, defeating Kerber to reach the Semifinals. The next week, she upset World #2 Simona Halep at Wimbledon, and competed in her second Major Semifinal. Her partnership with Fissett was on fire, and she cracked the top-5 for the first time.

Then the hard court season happened. After Wimbledon, Jo Konta won only two matches the rest of the year. After her Round of 16 victory over Cibulkova in Cincinnati, she couldn’t score a win to save her life. She lost to World #78 Aleksandra Krunic in the 1st-Round of the US Open and ended the year with losses to Strycova, Barty and Niculescu on the Asian swing. At the end of October, she and Fissette parted ways.

Wim wasn’t on the market for long.

Angelique Kerber teams with Wim Fissette

After an immaculate 2016 that saw Kerber reach three Grand Slam Finals and earn her first two Major titles, her 2017 was a buzz-kill. She maintained the top-position through late April, then gained it back just before the grass swing. But after Garbine Muguruza elimated her from Wimbledon’s Round of 16, the rabbit hole deepened.

Her American hard-court season was abysmal. She fell to Naomi Osaka in the 1st-Round of the US Open, and aside from a Semifinal run in Tokyo, won only a single match between late October and November.

After losing both of her round-robin matches at the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai, she picked up Fissette to prepare for the 2018 season. It clicked.

Angelique started the year as the World #22, and right out of the gate, won her 11th career title in Sydney. After a Semifinal run in Melbourne, she comes into her third event of the season as the World #9.

Angelique Kerber v Johanna Konta: Chapter IV

Kerber was the more rested of the two. As the 8-seed, she enjoyed a 1st-Round Bye before easily dispatching Sam Stosur on Court-1 last night.

Konta’s Doha run began Tuesday afternoon against 23-year-old American qualifier Bernarda Pera – the same Bernarda Pera who last month, as a lucky loser, defeated Konta in the 1st-Round of the Australian Open. After a first set tiebreak, Konta easily delivered the win 61 in the second. Yesterday, Jo had little trouble with 2016 Qatar Total Open Champion Carla Suarez Navarro, winning 62 62.

In 2016, Kerber won her first two matches versus Konta – First, in the Australian Open Semifinals (where Angeliquqe won the title), then in the Quarterfinal Round of the Olympic Games in Rio (where she won the Silver Medal). Jo Konta, however, won their most recent match last year to reach the Semifinals in Eastbourne.

Kerber rides the pendulum to victory

Jo Konta won the first five games tonight. With two matches under her belt, and a confidence from knowing she’d beaten Kerber before (when Angie was the World #1), it appeared Jo would run away with the match in record time.

Down 1-5, Kerber fought off four set-points; but after 37-minutes, found herself down a set with only a single game on the board.

In the second, it was Kerber’s turn to dominate. Angie won the first three games, allowed Konta a single hold, then won three straight to level in the match.

After a bathroom break for both, Kerber started the decider with a break, and maintained the lead through the second changeover. Konta leveled the set after the sit-down, but couldn’t consolidate. Angie broke right back and won the last two games to reach her second career Doha Quarterfinal.

Kudos to Coach Fissette, who is now 2-for-2 with this matchup.

Up Next: Caroline Wozniacki

Caroline earned a contentious victory over qualifier Monica Niculescu in tonight’s previous match. Kerber and Wozniacki have faced each other 13-times over the years. They last played in the 2016 US Open Semfinals, where Kerber won 64 63, before winning her second Grand Slam Title of the year.

Angelique Kerber

At 30-years-old, this 2-time Grand Slam Champion and Olympic Silver Medalist was a Finalist here in Doha just 4-years-ago. In 2016, she was simply unbeatable – earning 12 of her 32 career wins over top-10 opponents. She captured her first Grand Slam Singles title at the Australian Open, reached the Wimbledon Final, earned Olympic Silver in Rio, won her second Major at the US Open, and claimed the World #1 Ranking for the first time. This year, she’s on a tear again. Last month, she started the season by winning her 11th WTA Singles title in Sydney, then reached her 6th career Grand Slam Semifinal in Melbourne to break back into the top-10. Overall, she spent 30-weeks as the sports top-ranked player, and comes into her 9th Qatar Total Open as the World #9. From Germany – Please welcome 2014 Qatar Total Open Finalist, Angelique Kerber

Johanna Konta

At 26-years-old, this 2-time Grand Slam Semifinalist defeated 2016 Doha Champion Carla Suarez Navarro to reach tonight’s Round of 16 match. Last year, she started the season by winning her 2nd and 3rd WTA Singles titles in Sydney and Miami, reached her 5th career Final in Nottingham, then earned her first career win over a World #1 in Eastbourne (Defeated Angelique Kerber in straigbht sets). At Wimbledon, she defeated World #2 Simona Halep to reach her second Grand Slam Semifinal, and climbed to a career high ranking of #4 in the World. A Quarterfinalist at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, over the weekend, she won all three of her Fed Cup matches, lifting Great Britain into the Fed Cup World Group II Playoffs this April. Competing in her first Qatar Total Open, from Great Britain – Please welcome, Johanna Konta