After two very different paths in 2015, Victoria Azarenka and Angelique Kerber will meet in the opening round of the Qatar Total Open. It will serve as their fourth career meeting, with two-time former Grand Slam champion Azarenka leading head to head the series with an unblemished 3-0 record. This will also be their first career meeting since the WTA Championships in 2012.
Azarenka overcame a tough and turbulent 2014 season plagued with injuries and is well on her way to regaining her old form, particularly under the new tutelage of Wim Fissette. After losing to rising star Karolina Pliskova in her first match of the season in Brisbane, Azarenka managed to work her way through a tough Aussie Open draw to reach the fourth round of the Major that she had previously won on two occasions. Following wins over Sloane Stephens, Carolina Wozniacki and Barbara Zahlavova Strycova, the former champ lost to last year’s runner up Dominika Cibulkova, and were denied the quarter-final berth.
Now, Azarenka is back in Doha, where she is on a 10-match winning streak following back-to-back title wins in 2012-13. She missed last year’s tournament due to her foot injury, but appears to be ready to continue her run in the Qatari capital.
Her opponent, Angelique Kerber has had a tempestuous season on the tour so far, as she lost in the quarter-final round in Sydney to Karolina Pliskova, suffered opening round losses at the Aussie Open and Antwerp, and later managed to reach the second round in Dubai before losing to Flavia Pennetta.
This marks the fourth time that these two competitors will cross paths on the professional tour, and the first time since the 2012 WTA Championship. While Azarenka is unseeded at this event, she should be treated as a top competitor, and will likely find a way to edge her German adversary on Monday.
Prediction: Victoria Azarenka in Three Sets