For the first time in 186 weeks, there’s a new name next to the No. 1 ranking in women’s tennis — Angelique Kerber.
Serena Williams’ stunning semifinal loss at the U.S. Open paved the way for Kerber to take the top spot, and she certainly has earned it with her 2016 season. The 28-year-old German has made the final in three of the four Grand Slams, including this Saturday’s U.S. Open women’s championship match against Karolina Pliskova. Oh, and she also made the final at the Olympics, too.
But winning her second Grand Slam of the year won’t be easy, considering Pliskova already has proven that she can beat not one, but two Williams sisters on her way to the final.
If you handicap this match based off what both players have done in the their careers, especially this year, Kerber should win in a landslide. But momentum isn’t something to overlook, and that’s where Pliskova holds the advantage after an impressive two weeks in New York.
If you need any proof that the Czech has momentum on her side, simply look back at her first set on Thursday against Serena Williams. She needed just 26 minutes to easily get past Williams 6-2, and while the second set was much closer, she beat arguably the greatest tennis player who has ever lived in straight sets.
And a big reason why she has been so successful in New York has been her serving.
The good news for Kerber, though, is she’s in the top 10 in percentage of return points and games won. Kerber also has been the best women’s player on hard courts this year with a 29-8 record, including her win at the Australian Open, and she far and away has the best overall record at 47-14.
So, as hard as it is to believe, someone other than Serena Williams really has been the best women’s tennis player this year.
The upstart Pliskova should give Kerber a tough match thanks to her serving, but the German should leave New York with her second Grand Slam of 2016, along with her new No. 1 ranking.
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