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.