Fixture: (16) Angelique Kerber vs Kaia Kanepi
Date: 18 January 2022
Round: First round (Round of 128)
Venue: Melbourne, Australia
Category: Grand Slam
Surface: Outdoor Hardcourt
Match timing: 4.30 p.m. local time, 5.30 a.m. GMT, 11 a.m. IST
Prize money: $75,000,000
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel | UK - Eurosport | India - Sony Six, Sony Liv
Angelique Kerber vs Kaia Kanepi preview
Kerber, the 16th seed, will be playing her first match of the season at Melbourne Park. The former champion ended last year on a high, staging deep runs at Wimbledon and the US Open. She will be keen to carry her momentum into the Australian Open as well.
Kanepi, meanwhile, enters the tournament having played a couple of marathon matches at the Melbourne Summer Set warmup event.
The Estonian is a former top-20 player and is no stranger to making deep runs at Grand Slam events herself. The Australian Open is the only Major where she has never made the second week. That said, she has had her fair share of success Down Under -- having made two WTA 500 finals -- and could well cause a few problems for Kerber on Tuesday.
Angelique Kerber vs Kaia Kanepi head-to-head
Angelique Kerber and Kaia Kanepi have split their previous four meetings, so their current head-to-head stands at 2-2. However, the two haven't played since their 2014 meeting at the Sydney International, where Kerber took the match in straight sets.
Angelique Kerber vs Kaia Kanepi prediction
Angelique Kerber will be keen to make a good start to the season in Melbourne. The former World No. 1 managed to turn her season around in June last year, lifting her first title in three years at Bad Homburg. She has been on an upward trajectory ever since.
Kerber will need to be wary of Kaia Kanpei, who possesses one of the most explosive games of the women's tour. And while she hasn't shown the level of consistency she did at her peak, the 36-year-old has repeatedly displayed a knack for staging massive upsets.
Kanepi will step out looking to take control of the encounter using her big serve and powerful groundstrokes and the onus will be on Kerber to come up with a solution to diffuse her opponent's power.
The German does hold a slight advantage in the humid court conditions, but she will still need to take a more active role in the match. Hanging around the baseline and playing defensively would give Kanepi an opportunity to take control of the contest.
The first match of the season can always be tricky, especially against a dangerous opponent like Kanepi. But Kerber's experience might just be enough to see her through this one.
Prediction: Angelique Kerber to win in three sets