Madison Keys and Daria Kasatkina face off in what will be a blockbuster match-up in the second round of the Western and Southern Open as the American looks to continue her good run of form, while Kasatkina is in search for a second Top 20 victory this year. The winner earns the opportunity to face Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza in the third round, with both of them having a huge chance of creating the upset.
Keys’ recent results
Keys recently had an impressive run at the Bank of the West Classic as she rebounded from some poor results to unexpectedly clinch her first title of the year. Bothered by a wrist injury since the start of the year, the American was ranked outside the Top 100 of the Porsche Race to Singapore leaderboard before entering the US Open Series. Nonetheless, she managed to regain her form, finding her best tennis to defeat quality players like Lesia Tsurenko and most impressively, Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza, snapping her nine-match winning streak, on her way to the title. She defeated good friend and compatriot Coco Vandeweghe in the final, triumphing in two tight sets.
Withdrawing from the Rogers Cup to prevent any possible injuries from plaguing her, Keys returned to action in Cincinnati this week but was given a very tough draw as it was Vandeweghe who waited in the opening round. Nevertheless, it was the same outcome as their encounter in Stanford as Keys powered herself to a tough three-set victory, progressing to the second round.
Kasatkina’s recent results
Kasatkina’s first US Open Series tournament this year was at the Rogers Cup having withdrawn from the Citi Open a week before. She was given the toughest draw possible, facing veteran Roberta Vinci in the opening round. Nevertheless, she played some impressive tennis to outlast the Italian in two tiebreak sets, sending herself into the second round. There, she faced the fifth seed Elina Svitolina, the eventual champion, but eventually fell in two tight sets despite putting up a tough fight, losing the second set 4-6 from being 4-0 up.
In Cincinnati, Kasatkina was given a relatively easier first round opponent as compared to Toronto as she was drawn against a qualifier. However, it was found out that the dangerous Aliaksandra Sasnovich was her opponent as the Belarusian had troubled her in their previous meetings. Nevertheless, the Russian put in a clinical performance to prevail in straight sets to set up a meeting with Keys.
Head to Head
The pair has met twice in history, with Keys winning both of their encounters. Their first meeting came in the quarterfinals of the Rio Olympics last year and the eventual Bronze Medalist prevailed in straight sets with the loss of just four games. Their second meeting at the Wuhan Open was much more competitive as Kasatkina managed to send the match into a deciding set, but the power of Keys was just too much for the Russian as the American eventually prevailed in three sets.
Just like in their previous match-ups, Keys would look to dictate play and control the rallies from start to finish. Her power would prove too much for Kasatkina if she were to play at a high level consistently, and she has to be playing her top-notch tennis since the Russian is not a player to be underestimated. She will look to serve at a high first serve percentage, winning a majority of points behind her first delivery.
Kasatkina must be performing well on the defence as she could not afford to be overpowered by the American throughout the match. Her backhand must be firing on all cylinders as it is the highlight of her game and it would be able to fire off winners after winners. The Russian plays with a variety of shots, and that could be useful against a powerful player like Keys especially if she could mix it up with some slices and drop shots.
Consistency could pose a huge problem for Keys but in her recent performances, she managed to have the momentum running in her and she looks to extend her winning run. However, Kasatkina is a huge threat to the American and therefore, this match could go either way.
Match Prediction: Madison Keys d. Daria Kasatkina in three sets