Elina Svitolina vs Angelique Kerber live streaming, preview and tips: Defending Italian Open champion Svitolina aims for her sixth straight win over Kerber

Hannah Wilks in WTA 17 May 2018
  • Defending champion Elina Svitolina faces Angelique Kerber in the quarterfinals of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome on Friday
  • Svitolina vs Kerber Internazionali BNL d'Italia tennis is live from Rome on Friday at 12pm local/11am BST
  • Watch and bet on tennis live from Rome at bet365 > live streaming > tennis (geo-restrictions apply; funded account required or to have placed a bet in the last 24 hours to qualify) 
Elina Svitolina (Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP)

Elina Svitolina continues her Internazionali BNL d’Italia title defense as she looks for a sixth straight win against Angelique Kerber in Rome on Friday.

Elina Svitolina vs Angelique Kerber Internazionali BNL d'Italia tennis is streamed live from Rome on Friday at 12pm local/11am BST (geo-restrictions apply; funded account required or to have placed a bet in the last 24 hours to qualify).  Watch and bet on tennis live from Rome at bet365 > live streaming > tennis

Into her first clay-court quarterfinal since Stuttgart in 2016, can Angelique Kerber end defending Internazionali BNL d’Italia champion Elina Svitolina’s run of five straight wins against her and book a place in the semifinals in Rome?

The two women booked their place in Friday’s quarterfinals and set up the thirteenth match between them in contrasting fashion on Thursday, with Kerber breezing through against Maria Sakkari while Svitolina had to recover from a bagel set served to her by Daria Kasatkina.

World no. 4 Elina Svitolina recovered to maintain her unbeaten record against Kasatkina, but it was by no means easy. The Ukrainian, who won her second of three Premier-5 titles she would collect in 2017 at the Foro Italico with a brilliant run that included victories over Karolina Pliskova and Simona Halep, has already won two titles in 2018, the Brisbane International in January and a successful defense of her Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title in February. But her clay-court season so far has been a bit under par for the two-time French Open quarterfinalist, going 2-2 in Stuttgart and Madrid with defeats to Caroline Garcia and Carla Suarez Navarro.

Svitolina was clearly determined to end that streak of disappointing results this week, but she made a poor start to the match, missing a pair of volleys to be broken in her first service game. The fourth seed took a jarring tumble, landing flat on her face, during the next game, and while she said she wasn’t hurt, it clearly rattled her nerves. Indian Wells runner-up Kasatkina took full advantage and completely dominated the first set, winning the following three games to love to hand Svitolina her first bagel since losing to Elise Mertens at the Australian Open.

After a bathroom break, though, Svitolina regrouped quickly, breaking to open the second set. Although Kasatkina broke back and led 3-2, the history between them was so firmly in Svitolina’s favour that the Ukrainian had every reason to feel confident and she quickly re-established the break with Kasatkina increasingly over-pressing in an attempt to hit through Svitolina’s defense. A slew of forehand errors saw Svitolina win the last three games of the set to level up and although Kasatkina initially offered stern resistance in the decider, digging out a huge hold to start and breaking to take an early lead, Svitolina had little trouble in re-establishing control, getting back on serve and then hammering a forehand winner down the line to break for 4-2. She wrapped up an 0-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory to extend her winning streak in Rome to seven matches – and maintain her perfect record against Kasatkina.
It was a little bit slow today, but she was playing unbelievable tennis. It was a little bit of both that I couldn't find my rhythm and she was really playing so great in the first set,’ Svitolina said afterwards, crediting the crowd with helping her find her way back into the match. 
‘I knew what she would bring to the court, and I know that she's a bit of a tricky player. She drop shots, slices and sees the court pretty well,’ Svitolina added.  
‘I was just focused on what I needed to do, to move well, to get lots of balls back. She gave me the chance and I took it.’

Angelique Kerber  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Angelique Kerber, meanwhile, delivered probably her most confident performance on outdoor clay of the season so far, crushing Greece’s Maria Sakkari 6-1, 6-1. 

Sakkari was clearly feeling the after-effects of her long three-set match against Karolina Pliskova the previous day, which was the best win of her career but only after a controversial and emotional end to the match. But even as the Greek brightened in the second set, Kerber stayed in perfect control, reeling off some of her trademark passing shot winners off the forehand and serving impressively to book her place in the quarterfinals.

‘Today I was really feeling better and better - I wouldn’t say great, but better and better,’ Kerber said. ‘I feel like I know what to do on court, I know how to play.  
‘I think in the end you have to know how to make the right decisions on clay especially, to have patience and go for it when you have the chance. It’s a much bigger game mentally.’

It’s just the second time Kerber has reached the quarterfinals in Rome, after she made the semifinals in 2012, and it’s a nice boost ahead of the French Open – especially after a tough beginning to the clay season. Clay is decidedly not Kerber’s favourite surface, and she had a difficult time in Fed Cup, suffering defeats to Petra Kvitova and Pliskova in front of her home crowd in Stuttgart – then had to pull out of Stuttgart, retiring while trailing Anett Kontaveit 0-6, 0-2 due to a right thigh injury which kept her out of Madrid.

This part of the season is never going to be super successful for Kerber, but it would be a shame for injury to derail what was looking like an extremely resurgent season after her dreadful 2017, having won Sydney, made the semifinals at the Australian Open and in Dubai and quarterfinals in Doha, Indian Wells and Miami. 

Unfortunately for the German, she comes into the match on a five-match losing streak against Svitolina. The head-to-head overall is a fairly balanced 7-5 in the Ukrainian’s favour, but it’s swung decisively in Svitolina’s favour in recent years: Kerber was 5-2 in their first seven meetings (Australian Open 2013 to Montreal in July 2016) but has since lost all five, including their only match this year – the Dubai semifinals – and the only match they’ve played on clay. Indeed, Svitolina has won the last seven sets the two have played.

That swing in Svitolina’s favour has coincided partly with Kerber’s annus horribilis in 2017 – she lost three times to Svitolina in the first four months of that year – and also with Svitolina’s improvement as a more attacking, dictating player. Both women are supreme defenders, but it’s Svitolina who seems to have found a way to effectively attack Kerber – not as you might expect the other way around. I think Kerber can change this dynamic, but clay is not the surface on which she’s going to do it. The defending champion Svitolina should book her place in the semifinals at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia once again.

Svitolina vs Kerber Internazionali BNL d’Italia tennis is live from Rome on Friday at 12pm local/11am BST. Watch and bet on the match live at bet365 > live streaming > tennis > Elina Svitolina vs Angelique Kerber (geo-restrictions apply; funded account required or to have placed a bet in the last 24 hours to qualify) 

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Elina Svitolina vs Angelique Kerber live streaming, preview and tips: Defending Italian Open champion Svitolina aims for her sixth straight win over Kerber

Elina Svitolina vs Angelique Kerber live streaming, preview and tips for the WTA Rome Internazionali BNL d’Italia quarterfinal match on Froday 18 May 2018: Kerber has lost five straight matches (and seven straight sets) to Svitolina, the defending champion in Rome. We preview the match and show you how you can watch the match live and bet in-play.

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