Date/Time: Wednesday 13th March 2019 (Kick-off 4:00 AM CET).
Is this a passing of the torch moment between two players going in opposite directions as far as their careers go? That may be a touch harsh on 31 year old Angelique Kerber who has shown she can bounce back and win big titles even when off form and who is currently the defending Wimbledon Champion, but it does feel like Aryna Sabalenka is marching towards the top of the women's game.
There are some talented players ahead of the Belarusian in the Rankings and her window for success may not be that wide if she doesn't continue improving with some huge talents breaking through. Aryna Sabalenka went into the Australian Open as one of the favourites to win the title and was dismissed emphatically by one of those young talents, but she is young and looks to be improving all the time.
You can see those improvements from the numbers when you split up the last twelve months into three parts. Early on Sabalenka was not quite putting it all together, but by the back end of 2018 she was flying and has only seemingly gotten better in the first couple of months of 2019.
One concern for Sabalenka fans has to be the fact she has yet to beat a top 20 Ranked player on the hard courts in 2019 and the two losses suffered have seen her fall away after dropping tight opening sets. That indicates the first set in this Fourth Round match is going to be very important for the younger player just to make sure she keeps her belief going.
Angelique Kerber is a superb defender and she can frustrate Sabalenka in their first match against each other, although the German has looked far from assured herself. Her general numbers on the hard courts have actually been strong, but Kerber has struggled when the competition has ramped up and I think that could be the case again.
Where Sabalenka has a winning record against top 20 players she has faced on the hard courts over the last twelve months, Kerber is 3-6 in those matches. She has not returned nearly as well as she would have liked and is capable of and that has put pressure on Kerber whose own serve can be a vulnerability when she is facing these kinds of big hitters like Sabalenka.
At her best Kerber could frustrate the life out of Sabalenka with an ability to get plenty of returns in play and defend the big hitting groundstrokes. I just don't think we have seen enough of Kerber at her best in these big matches over a prolonged period now and I will look for Sabalenka to record her biggest win of 2019 by edging out Kerber over three sets.
Prediction: Aryna Sabalenka - 1.5 Games