Angelique Kerber hasn't played anything close to her best tennis for several months. On Wednesday the German will face Ekaterina Makarova of Russia, a player that Kerber will have to play well against if she hopes to advance. Makarova has been in good form for the last couple of weeks and she has to be considered a threat to take Kerber out of the Cincinnati draw.

Makarova has a recent title

Makarova won a title two weeks ago on the hard-court surface as she was the last woman standing at WTA Washington (the Citi Open).

The Russian was also active last week in Toronto where she fell in the third round of the 2017 Rogers Cup tournament. However, prior to exiting the draw in Canada, Makarova did some damage as she eliminated seeded-player Johanna Konta and 24th-ranked Shuai Peng. Those results backing up a title in Washington definitely attest to Makarova's form at this point in her 2017 season. She does look dangerous for a run in Cincinnati, even with a seeded-player to beat on Wednesday.

Kerber versus Makarova preview

Makarova and Kerber have a lengthy history of head-to-head matches against one another.

It's Kerber that has won 7 of their 12 head to heads, however, Makarova defeated the German in their most-recent match. The two players met at the 2017 French Open in the first round. Makarova handed Kerber a discrediting 6-2, 6-2 loss. At the time of the match, the German was the World No. 1.

Kerber has enjoyed success against Makarova for the most part in recent seasons. However, most of their matches were played at times when Kerber simply was playing much better than she has been so far this season.

The German's ranking of World No. 3 makes her look very dangerous. But the fact of the matter is that her ranking reflects results from late 2016 more than anything she has done in 2017. Makarova's title in Washington may have been a low-tiered one, but it is still a bigger title than anything Kerber has won since the conclusion of the 2016 US Open. For that reason, you have to wonder if the Russian should be considered the favorite in their Wednesday match, even though Kerber outranks Makarova by 36 positions in the most-recent WTA rankings.

The two players will be on the Grandstand court on Wednesday with a start time of not before 2 PM local time in Cincinnati. Kerber is a part of the sub-plots in Cincinnati this week as there is actually a chance that she could get back to the World No. 1 ranking. However, that would require a drastic change of form along with poor results to fall on some players that have typically done well of late.

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