Who has the advantage as we delve through the numbers
Source: SAP – Official Cloud & Mobile Partner of the WTA Finals
SINGAPORE – After a thrilling race to the finish, some amazing tennis, we are down to the two players who kicked off the action in the Red Group as World No. 1 Angelique Kerber takes on Dominika Cibulkova for the WTA Finals title.
While it looks close, it has not been a nip and tuck match-up. Cibulkova had the measure of Kerber up until Toronto 2013, after which Kerber managed to find the solution to the Slovak’s aggressive game. It is worth noting that Kerber’s wins over Cibulkova on indoor hard courts have been pretty tight, including their first Round Robin fight.
Kerber takes time to get going at a tournament (by her own admission) and Cibulkova was a tough start and probably exactly what she needed. It took a while for Cibulkova to get going – she was edged in a very tight opener, and bitterly disappointed and frustrated by her inability to get her strategy right against Madison Keys. After Svetlana Kuznetsova took the initiative in the semi-final, Cibulkova was far quicker to shift her tactics, and Kerber needs to be ready to do as she did against Agnieszka Radwanska’s new-found aggressive play.
Ok that is maybe a little unfair as this has been a big year for both of them, but at times like this it can all come down to the experience. Kerber knows what it is like to beat the best to win the ultimate prize twice now, while by her own admission, Cibulkova may have been just more happy to be there when she reached the Australian Open final, rather than a real belief she could win.
Kerber has a great level of confidence just now, and a sense of self-belief that she deserves to be there, compared to some years where she has almost had to justify why she was a consistent Top 10 player. There is no doubt Cibulkova will come in and fight for every ball, but the edge has to go to Kerber.
Year to Date W/L Record
All surfaces W/L
It has been a solid year for Kerber, with good results at the start of the year, starting and ending the year with finals, not to mention one or two big titles this year (!) – that kind of consistency is something that is hard to battle against. Cibulkova came into the tournament having known she had to reach the finals or win the title in Linz to clinch her qualification, and having done that, she has acquitted herself excellently this year.
Kerber suffered a little slump after winning in Melbourne as Cibulkova found some form at the start of the spring season, reaching the final of Acapulco, and winning in Katowice. Obviously Kerber’s consistency shone through in the run up to the US Open, while Cibulkova’s sprint to the finish came post New York.
Match Stats 2016
Tie-Breaks (hard court)
Deciding sets (hard court)
The pair are pretty tight on these on this surface – and once more on the confidence factor you would see Kerber riding the edge.
Kerber has been on the winning end of some real battles this year and her gritty determination to run anything down and be prepared to stay out there to the bitter end puts her ahead in terms of getting the upper hand although we do have to wonder whether more aggression would see her sail through more tournaments, much as she has done here.
1st serve pts won %
2nd serve pts won %
Break pts won %
Return pts won %
Although Cibulkova has served no aces this tournament, her first serve percent edges Kerber as she focuses on placement. It is an area of her game that Kerber has worked on, rather than just using it as a mechanism to start the point, and for too long she did not make good use of her leftie serve.
Where Kerber wins out is her strong return game, and while Cibulkova has hit a lot more winners over the course of the tournament, her unforced errors tower above the German, and with her patience and defensive capabilities, we can expect Kerber to frustrate Cibulkova at times to play that extra ball.
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