Serena Williams will be looking for her seventh career title at the Australian Open and 22nd Grand Slam winner’s trophy overall when she takes the court in Rod Laver Arena on Saturday. Williams, who is also the defending champion of this event, had no trouble booking a spot in yet another major final. The world No. 1 has not dropped a single set in defeats of Camila Giorgi, Su-Wei Hsieh, Daria Kasatkina, Margarita Gasparyan, Maria Sharapova, and Agnieszka Radwanska. Not once has Williams been pushed to a tiebreaker and only one set has been more competitive than 6-4 (a 7-5 second frame against Giorgi).
Up next for the top-seeded American is a seventh career meeting with Angelique Kerber. The head-to-head series stands at 5-1 in favor of Williams and all six of their previous encounters have come on hard courts. They have not faced each other at a major since their first-ever showdown back in 2007 at the U.S. Open, where Williams won a first-round battle 6-3, 7-5. Kerber’s one upset came at the 2012 Cincinnati Masters via a 6-4, 6-4 decision. Williams has since taken four consecutive matches and eight straight sets at the German’s expense. Six of those eight sets have been no closer than 6-3.
“You can’t underestimate Kerber,” Williams assured. “She’s beaten me before, too, and pretty good. I know that she brings a lot to the game. Her being lefty definitely helps out, as well. I haven’t played any lefties yet. It definitely won’t be easy. She’s proven that she wants to take her game to the next level; I know she was talking about (how) she wants to do better in the slams this year. To start out with a final already tells you that if she puts her mind to something, she’s going to do it. She took out a really tough opponent in Victoria (Azarenka).”
Kerber preceded her quarterfinal victory over Azarenka by beating Masaki Doi, Alexandra Dulgheru, Madison Brengle, and Annika Beck. She then ended Johanna Konta’s run with a 7-5, 6-2 semifinal triumph on Thursday. The world No. 6 is 11-1 this season with her only loss coming to Azarenka in the Brisbane title match.
“It feels good; I mean, it feels really good,” Kerber said about being in her first slam final. “I think [the nerves] will be for sure better (than in the semifinals) because I have nothing to lose against Serena, of course. I must play my best tennis to have a chance. I saw the match against Aga; she was playing unbelievable. But I think the nerves will be getting better when I’m getting out there in the finals.”
The results, however, may not. Not unlike Radwanska, Kerber is mostly a counter-puncher who does not boast a ton of firepower. Such a recipe has never worked well against Williams, who is by far the strongest and simply the best offensive player in the game. Combine that with the favorite’s vast experience in these situations (this is Kerber’s first Grand Slam title match) and one-way traffic has to be expected.
Prediction – Williams in straight sets
See the men’s final preview here: Murray vs Djokovic Australian Open 2016 final analysis