Angelique Kerber hasn't won a match since November 1, 2021.

On Friday, world No. 74 Zheng Qinwen will look to upset world No. 16 Angelique Kerber at the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells. On paper, one would think that this should be a slam dunk for the three-time Grand Slam champion, but the German just isn’t in the best form at this point in time.

Kerber lost two of her final three matches to end the 2021 season, and she has started off 2022 with back-to-back defeats. The 34-year-old had COVID-19 at the end of last year, which really put a damper on her season. Then, Kerber went into the Australian Open without having played in any of the warm-up events. That led to her losing a lopsided match against Kaia Kanepi in the first round; she followed up that disappointing result with a loss to Jil Teichmann in Doha. Kerber won the first set in that one, but struggled the rest of the way.

Zheng, meanwhile, is an impressive 16-4 to start the 2022 season, and that should have her feeling quite confident in her first-ever encounter with Kerber. Even if Zheng hadn’t won 16 of those 20 hard-court matches, simply having that many outings under her belt would have given her a huge leg up on a rusty opponent.


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Kerber still moves around the court at an elite level, but her defense isn’t as valuable if she isn’t making shots. The 34-year-old had only 18 winners to 19 unforced errors in her straight-set loss to Kanepi in Melbourne, and she followed that up by racking up 48 unforced errors in a three-set loss to Teichmann. On top of Kerber struggling with her groundstrokes, the former world No. 1 has also regressed as a server. That area of her game used to be a legitimate weapon, but it has become a liability of late.

With Kerber not looking like herself, this match-up really couldn’t be much worse for her. The 19-year-old Zheng plays the game with a lot of energy, and ample power from the baseline. Overall, this is just a tough draw for Kerber, who needs to play more matches in order to regain her footing the rest of the way. It isn’t hard to envision a scenario in which Kerber ends up taking a set in this match, but Zheng’s excellent form should allow her to prevail in the end.

The Pick: Zheng To Win (-110)