Daria Kasatkina faces a tricky opposition in the opening round of the US Open as the dangerous dark horse Wang Qiang awaits. The Russian is currently in poor form and needs to play some excellent tennis to overcome the tough challenge of the Chinese.
Meanwhile, Wang has nothing to lose and comes into Flushing Meadows with some great confidence, having won the gold medal at the National Games of China. This is a repeat of their meeting last year at the exact same tournament and coincidentally, the same round as well.
Head to Head
These two players have met twice previously, with both of their encounters coming in 2016. Kasatkina prevailed in their first meeting at the Qatar Total Open, needing three sets to do so. Wang then exacted revenge when she upset the Russian in a thrilling first round match in New York, recovering from a break down in the final set to do so.
Kasatkina’s recent results
Kasatkina is currently in very poor form, failing to secure back-to-back wins in any of her tournaments since May. Although she defeated Roberta Vinci in the first round of the Rogers Cup, she fell to Elina Svitolina as she failed to capitalize on her chances. The Western and Southern Open proved to be yet another disappointing tournament for the Russian after she was totally outclassed by the hard-hitting Madison Keys in the second round, only managing to claim just a mere three games in her loss.
She lost to yet another hard-hitter in New Haven when she fell to qualifier and eventual semifinalist Elise Mertens in straight sets, failing to mark an impact against any of her powerful opponents.
Wang’s recent results
Wang did not play a single tournament during the US Open Series as she was busy fulfilling her duties for her city at the National Games of China. Representing Tianjin alongside other top Chinese players like Zhang Shuai, Wang eventually clinched the gold medal after a physically-draining final against Zhang, prevailing in three tough sets. This was especially confidence-boosting especially after a disappointing second round defeat at the Jiangxi Women’s Open against compatriot Han Xinyun, where she visibly struggled with the soaring temperature.
Without a doubt, Wang is the more aggressive player as compared to Kasatkina and she definitely looks to dictate play throughout the match. Her powerful groundstrokes would surely help her in doing so, especially against a defensive player like the Russian.
She has to be solid in her baseline game, moving Kasatkina all around the court. Wang cannot afford to be on the defense at any point in time and needs to be playing some of her best tennis to have any chance of clinching the upset.
Kasatkina inputs a variety of shots into her game and her game is rather three-dimensional as compared to other players. She plays well with controlled aggression, which has already worked against several top players this year.
The Russian needs to be a little more aggressive against Wang and cannot let the Chinese tramp over her, and she has to rely on her reliable backhands to control proceedings. She could also mix in slices and drop shots to catch her opponent off-guard, and an alternative is to go up to the net more often during the match and kill off several points there with her crafty play.
Wang comes into the US Open full of confidence especially after winning the National Games in her home country and winning their last match at the exact same tournament and the same round certainly helps also. Meanwhile, Kasatkina usually struggles against the hard-hitting players and her lack of aggression may just see Wang clinch the upset in the first round.
Match Prediction: Wang Qiang d. Daria Kasatkina in three sets