Angelique Kerber vs Sloane Stephens WTA Toronto tennis preview, predictions and tips: Kerber faces resurgent Stephens for quarter-final spot

Andrew Hendrie in WTA 10 Aug 2017
  • Angelique Kerber vs Sloane Stephens is live from Toronto at 5.00pm local time on Thursday (10.00pm BST)
  • Stephens has won two of their three meetings, although their last clash ended in a Kerber retirement
  • Watch and bet on tennis live from Toronto at bet365 > sports > live streaming tennis
Angelique Kerber (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Angelique Kerber aims for the Rogers Cup quarter-finals for the second straight year on Thursday when she takes on the resurgent Sloane Stephens on Thursday in Toronto.

Watch and bet on Kerber vs Stephens live from Toronto at bet365 > sports > live streaming tennis. Their third round encounter begins at 5.00pm local time on Thursday (10.00pm BST).



It’s taken Simona Halep to end Angelique Kerber’s runs in Montreal (semi-finals) and Toronto (R16) over the last two seasons - can the German, now without the pressure of being World No. 1 - go even further in Canada this week? Coming into Toronto with zero titles for the season and really not coming close to replicating her sensational two-slam winning year from 2016, Kerber is determined to make up for lost time in 2017 in Toronto. Standing in her way in the R16 is Sloane Stephens - the young American who is on the comeback trail from foot surgery and full of confidence after beating former Rogers Cup champion Petra Kvitova in the second round. Kerber and Stephens take to court at 5.00pm local time on Thursday (10.00pm BST).

Arriving in Toronto having been dethroned as World No. 1 by Karolina Pliskova after a R16 exit at Wimbledon and failing to defend her runner-up points, it will be interesting to see how Angelique Kerber performs for the remainder of the season. It’s safe to say 2017 has so far been heavily disappointing, but a player as good as Kerber has got to recapture her best form at some point, and with the pressure of being No. 1 released, perhaps the German is ready to deliver her best tennis throughout the US Open Series, where the slow hardcourts are well-suited to her counter-punching game.

Kerber, to put it bluntly, didn’t deal with the increased spotlight and expectation that comes with being No. 1 and a two-time grand slam champion at all well. The fact that she’s currently No. 16 in the yearly race says it all - Kerber hasn’t picked up a title all season, with her best result a runner-up finish at the International-level event in Monterrey to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, while she hasn’t been past the fourth round of a slam, losing to CoCo Vandeweghe in the R16 at the Australian Open, Ekaterina Makarova in the first round of the French Open and to eventual champion Garbine Muguruza in the fourth round of Wimbledon.


Injury problems have also played a part, but Kerber did play well against Muguruza at Wimbledon - and also in the lead-up to SW19 on the grass of Eastbourne - so there’s some tentative signs that she could be back on an upward trajectory. The 29-year-old got off to the perfect start in Toronto on Wednesday night, surviving a tough challenge from in-form qualifier Donna Vekic, edging a second set tiebreak to prevail 6-4 7-6(5). On track for a semi-final showdown with top seed Pliskova, Kerber must first move past a once and still promising rising star who is on the comeback trail from injury.

Sloane Stephens (Photo by PEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images)
A former World No. 11, Sloane Stephens was forced to watch from the sidelines for almost 12 months after undergoing surgery on her foot and ankle after the Rio Olympics last year. It was a cruel end to what was looking like a great season for Stephens, with the American winning three titles in Auckland, Acapulco and Charleston before the problems started surfacing, and after initially attempting to play through the pain, she decided that season-ending surgery was the only option.

Making the enforced lay-off even more frustrating was the fact that Stephens appeared to have settled into a nice balance on the court following some tough years after her initial breakthrough on tour - most notably in 2013, where she beat Serena Williams en route to her first grand slam semi-final at the Australian Open, while she also defeated Maria Sharapova in Cincinnati during that same season.

However, sometimes extended breaks from the sport for whatever reason can put things in perspective and give players a new lease on life, and Stephens already looks like she could come out the other side a better player. After having the misfortune of drawing Simona Halep in the opening round at the start of her US Open Series in Washington last week, Stephens has played some tremendous tennis in Toronto this week, winning her first match since Wimbledon last year with a three-set win over Yulia Putintseva in the first round before knocking out 2012 Rogers Cup champion and Petra Kvitova, finishing strongly to register a 7-6(4) 3-6 6-2.

Stephens also has a good record against Kerber, pushing her to three sets at Indian Wells in their first meeting in 2012 before winning in straight sets at the same event three years later and also prevailing via retirement in Charleston last year. Stephens has the athleticism and movement required to match Kerber from the baseline, but she also has the shotmaking skills and power to make life difficult for the German and take control of rallies. It might be too early in her comeback for Stephens to register back-to-back wins over grand slam champions - and I do think Kerber will win - but the American has the ability to trouble the World No. 3 on Thursday.


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Angelique Kerber vs Sloane Stephens WTA Toronto tennis preview, predictions and tips: Kerber faces resurgent Stephens for quarter-final spot

Angelique Kerber aims for the Rogers Cup quarter-finals for the second straight year on Thursday when she takes on the resurgent Sloane Stephens on Thursday in Toronto.

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