The only last 16 women’s match to follow the Wimbledon seedings sees former champion Maria Sharapova take on world number seven Angelique Kerber. A mere two ranking spots currently separate these players, but there is a chasm between them when it comes to profile, career achievements and playing style. Check out the Sharapova vs Kerber Head to Head.
Maria Sharapova is a worldwide megastar with five Grand Slam trophies to her name. She endorses myriad products across the globe and is instantly recognisable both in looks and sound, thanks to the unique yelp she emits when hitting the ball.
Kerber, on the other hand, is one of the most low-key members of the WTA elite. The German fully deserves her place in the top ten, as well as a ton of credit for elevating her game a couple of seasons ago: having contested the mid-league in the early part of her career, she reached the US Open semi-finals in 2011 and has regularly appeared in the latter rounds of major events ever since. Yet she has never touched the most sought-after silverware, and despite earning well over $6 million in prize money, is not widely known among casual tennis fans.
Of course, none of this will matter when the two battle for a place in the Wimbledon quarter-finals. Both Sharapova and Kerber are ultra-focussed competitors who relish the demands of the duel; both love nothing more than winning. So who is more likely to book a place in the last eight?
All indicators suggest that it will be Sharapova. For one thing, she owns a 4-1 lead in the pair’s head-to-head, with decisive wins on both clay and hard courts. For another, she has been in better form at the Championships so far. Sharapova has lost only seven games in her first three matches, won 81% of first serve points and hit significantly more winners than errors. Kerber, meanwhile, was pushed to three sets in both her second and third rounds and has won only 61% of first serve points. If both women enter this match in similar form, we can expect Sharapova to triumph in straight sets.
But if the French Open champion suffers the kind of off-day on which her occasionally fragile serve lets her down and the booming groundstrokes send dozens of balls beyond the baseline, this could become a much tighter affair. Kerber is a fast-moving left-hander who chases down every shot, but she is more than just a counter-puncher. Able to launch launch herself into short balls and send them skimming up the lines, she is a resilient, experienced fighter who rarely beats herself.
Prediction: Sharapova, fuelled by the knowledge that Serena’s shock exit has blasted the draw wide open, will summon her legendary will to win and see off a stubborn Kerber in three messy and entertaining sets.