The final of the women’s singles at the 2016 Australian Open is all set for Saturday at Melbourne Park, with Serena Williams facing Angelique Kerber.
Williams is into her 26th Grand Slam final, while it’s a maiden appearance for world number seven Kerber.
In the men’s semi final between Andy Murray and Milos Raonic on Friday it took Murray one more set than I had hoped for to defeat the Canadian, who was struggling with injury in the latter stages of that match.
I said that Raonic would be competitive in that one and he certainly was and those who took the sure thing suggestion of under 1.5 tie breaks would have collected, but the long shot was a set away.
The ladies take centre stage on Saturday, with the final starting at around 08:30 UK time (19:30 local), and the weather set to be just about okay, with the threat of a bit of rain around once more.
Serena Williams vs Angelique Kerber
I’ve already paid a heavy price for taking Williams on once in this tournament and I won’t be making the same mistake again now that she’s shown herself to be in very decent form.
The world number one always had the capability of taking Aga Radwanska apart if the Pole didn’t take the game to her and Williams did just that, but those seeking frailties in the Serena game may look to nerves as the likeliest way she could fail to land this title.
After bagelling Aga in set one of their semi there were clear signs of nerves and we’ve seen this from Williams numerous times, however it seems rather unlikely that Kerber will take advantage.
A nervy sort herself I expect the German to take a while to settle in her first Grand Slam final and at 28 years old she’ll probably be wondering if this is her only shot at major glory.
Those on the 2-0 to Kerber over Jo Konta would have collected in that semi final, but the price was a tad short for me that day and I unwisely opted to take Serena on instead.
It will be the seventh meeting between Kerber and Williams and I distinctly recall tipping Kerber to beat the American when she did record a win over her in Cincy back in 2012, but it’s hard to see a repeat on Saturday.
Since then the German has failed to take a set from the world number one in four subsequent clashes and she’s managed to win only one of her last seven matches against top-10 opposition.
The main issue with Kerber against the best players in the world is her weak second serve, which will surely be pounced upon by Williams, and I can see this one turning into a one-sided affair.
Kerber’s career mark of 18-44 against the world’s top-10 doesn’t inspire confidence and the highest ranked player she’s beaten on her way to this final is 16th ranked Vika Azarenka.
Indeed, Kerber is 1-8 in Grand Slams versus top-10 opposition, with the one being a three-set win over Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon 2014 and it seems a very tall order indeed for the German to come out and beat Williams in these circumstances.
The only play on Kerber for my money would be the second set market, with the over 8.5 games in set two looking decent, as by then she’ll probably have little to lose and Williams is likely to get tight.
In her last six major final victories, going back to the 2013 French Open, Williams has played over 8.5 games in set two on all six occasions – and three have been tie breaks.
I can’t really envisage Kerber taking a set here and the 2-0 Williams, -5.5 games on Williams and the second set overs all hold some decent appeal in this one.
Value bet: Back over 8.5 games in set two at 1.73