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WTA • Miami Open Tennis • Sloane Stephens Beats Angie Kerber Easily

Sloane Stephens of the US reacts after defeating Garbine Muguruza of Spain during a fourth round match at the Miami Open tennis tournament on Key Biscayne, Miami, Florida, USA, 26 March 2018. EPA-EFE/ERIK S. LESSER

 

 

By Craig Cignarelli

 

There are billions of moves in chess. However, a couple of strategies tend to dominate high level competition. There is the positional game, playing with whatever pieces exist and trying to find the best move therein, and the tactical game, which is intended to set up attacks to place the opponent in jeopardy. That is a rudimentary explanation but it will suffice.

 

I took a few minutes off the court today to catch the Stephens-Kerber match. These are two slam winners battling in the quarters of the Miami Open. Stephens seems to be more in form these days, moving the ball better and moving herself even better than that. Kerber is a tactical player, setting up her patterns and looking to finish with her weapons. Conversely, Stephens is more of a positional player, taking what Kerber throws at her and defending with the right shot for that situation.

 

Today, Stephens’ ability to counter with speed and depth placed Kerber in a no-win situation. When Stephens movement is flowing this well, it is very difficult to get the ball by her, and when she is striking with such depth and pace, it leaves her opponent with few options. At present, Kerber’s toolbox is not deep enough. She let Sloane play in her comfort zone – waist high and with pace. She neglected to make Stephens play from a different part of the court, she rarely rushed her opponent, and she displayed less variety than a McDonalds menu. Stephens dominated the two-time slam winner 6-1, 6-2.

 

Lesson: Learning to play positionally or tactically is important. Are you the type of personality and athlete who wants to impose your will upon your opponent, or do you prefer seeking out the shots that make your opponent uncomfortable? Answering this question will aid your development as a player. But you need to know which game you are playing.

Angelique Kerber of Germany in action against Sloane Stephens of the US during a quarter final round match at the Miami Open tennis tournament on Key Biscayne, Miami, Florida, USA, 27 March 2018. EPA-EFE/ERIK S. LESSER

 

Sloane Stephens of the US in action against Angelique Kerber of Germany during a quarter final round match at the Miami Open tennis tournament on Key Biscayne, Miami, Florida, USA, 27 March 2018. EPA-EFE/ERIK S. LESSER

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