Thursday, August 18, 2016

Kerber and Radwanska face tough conditions and opponents in Cincy round of 16

Always a warm handshake @ARadwanska & @andreapetkovic #CincyTennis (mrenzaero, flickr)
The humidity in Cincinnati is at 81% as Misaki Doi and Karolina Pliskova play their match on The Grandstand at the Western & Southern Open. With the extreme precipitation and high humidity that have prevailed in Mason this week, players who can handle heavy tennis balls will have an edge over those who cannot.

The first WTA match on Center Court will be played between Daria Gavrilova and 3rd seed Simona Halep. Gavrilova has already taken out Caroline Garcia and 18th seed Elina Svitolina, both in straight sets. Halep leads Gavrilova 2-1 in matches played, with the Australian's only victory coming on a clay court. The most recent of these matches took place at this year's Rogers Cup, and Halep won 6-2, 6-3.

Both Angelique Kerber and Aga Radwanska, who are understandably tired from their Rio adventure (the travel aspect alone would have done in almost anyone) both played opponents last night who had to be pretty tired themselves. They delivered bagel sets to Kiki Mladenovic and Andrea Petkovic, respectively. Both Mladenovic and Petkovic had already played their delayed first round matches earlier in the day.

Today's opponents will be more rested. 5th seed Radwanska gets 10th seed Johanna Konta. And this brings me back to the first paragraph: Radwanska is a player who can struggle with the conditions present in Cincinnati right now, so this match could be far from routine for her. Kerber, for her part, will play against a very in-form Barbora Strycova, who hasn't dropped a set in her defeats of qualifier Genie Bouchard and 14th seed Sam Stosur.

Strycova had first serve win percentages of 75 and 72 in her first- and second-round matches, and second serve win percentages of 63 and 55. If the Olympic bronze medal winner (in doubles) continues to serve at this level--given her variety in other areas--she can give Kerber some trouble.

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