World No. 1 Serena Williams may have ended her run on grass on a sour note but she certainly made up for it with a strong start to the US Open Series in Stanford. The American will contest the final of the Bank of the West Classic against Germany’s Angelique Kerber, whom she has encountered five times on the professional tour. The Williams vs Kerber head-to-head series stands at 4-1.
The top seed comfortably worked her way through the Stanford draw this week until she encountered an inspired Ana Ivanovic in the quarter-final round, where she needed to summon up all her inner fortitude to rally from a set down and beat Ivanovic 7-5 in the deciding set. While her turnaround for the semi-final was less than 20 hours, she had a much easier contest against Andrea Petkovic, whom she defeated 7-5, 6-0 in 77 minutes. Williams hit 24 winners and did not drop serve once in the entire match.
“I’m really excited,” Williams said. “Andrea and I both had really long matches yesterday, so I was just hoping to come out again today with fresh legs, and just try to do the best I could out there.
“My body feels great. I’m just really excited to be in the finals of Stanford again.”
The second semi-final of the evening was a more competitive affair. Kerber, who beat Garbine Muguruza 6-2, 6-1 in the quarter-final round, dropped the opening set to Lepchenko 6-4. The world No. 59, who was partaking in her first ever WTA semi-final, maintained the pressure in the second set but was unable to capitalize on several break point opportunities and lost in the tiebreaker after nearly two hours of court time.
The third set was where the veteran competitor produced her best tennis of the evening. After 150 minutes of court time, Kerber finally got the break to lead 5-2 before finally closing out the match 6-2 to set up her fourth final of the season.
Although Kerber has reached four finals this season, she is 0-3 so far and heading into her toughest one yet against the world No.1. Williams leads the head-to-head series 4-1 and has maintained a stranglehold for the past two years. None of their previous encounters have gone three sets and this contest is not likely to break the pattern.
Prediction: Serena Williams in Straight Sets