Kerber’s breakthrough year to end with semi-final disappointment

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If asked to name a WTA player of the year, few would argue against Angelique Kerber for 2016.

Having reached two Grand Slam semi-finals and two quarters across the first nine years of her career, the German suddenly exploded into form, winning the Australian Open and US Open and reaching the final of Wimbledon. She even collected a silver medal at the Olympics.

So it is no surprise that, after the kind of season usually reserved only for Serena Williams, the 28-year-old begins the closing weekend of the WTA Finals as the strong 6/5 favourite to crown her breakthrough year with one more illustrious title, especially with the American legend out injured.

The problem is that while the WTA Finals brings together the campaign’s eight best performers, it doesn’t necessarily reflect the narrative of those 12 months, especially with Serena out, which is why Agnieszka Radwanska won in 2015 despite entering as fifth seed and losing her initial two matches.

News.Ladbrokes picked out the Pole as a potential victor at 6/1 after a defeat to rank outsider Svetlana Kuznetsova in her opener, pointing to her comeback last autumn, and has been vindicated by the second seed being cut to 12/5 after triumphs over Garbine Muguruza and Karolina Pliskova.

Even though those results left her with the best record in the White Group, winning five out of seven sets to Kuznetsova’s five from nine, the Russian claimed top spot on head-to-head supremacy.

It creates a strange semi-final line-up pairing the top two seeds – Kerber and Radwanska – and the bottom two – Kuznetsova and Domenika Cibulkova together – but, as the sole survivor to have won a WTA Finals knockout tie before, the holder is primed to surprise the world number one at 6/4.

Yes, Kerber was the lone participant to get through her group with three successes, yet Maria Sharapova and Muguruza did that last year just to be shocked by Petra Kvitova and Radwanska, who both started less emphatically, in the semi-finals.

Shockingly given their status as the leading seeds, Kerber and Radwanska haven’t clashed once in 2016. However, the Pole has the 6-5 advantage in career collisions, also prevailing in four of the last five in Asia, three of those in straight sets. She is 3/1 to deliver 2-0 on this occasion in Singapore.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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