I’ve never really followed New Haven before but i’m quite into this year’s draw… in the second round, the defending champion, Petra Kvitova will take on Madison Keys on Wednesday. It is the first time that the pair will have played since Keys upset Kvitova at the Australian Open en route to her first Grand Slam semi-final. Kvitova had a bye in the first round of New Haven which was probably not ideal. The Czech player is 0-2 since Wimbledon with losses to Victoria Azarenka (6-2 6-3) in Toronto and Caroline Garcia (7-5 4-6 6-2) in Cincy. All of Petra’s results right now need to be taken with a pinch of salt after she revealed in Canada that she had been diagnosed with Mononucleosis.
Keys’s first round match was an absolute jamboree of good, bad and ugly tennis. Keys quickly went down 0-4 to Elina Svitolina, barely making a ball in court. Her coach, Lindsay Davenport came on after three games and they had a laugh when Madison basically said getting balls in play might help. Davenport said to Keys that she was forcing it too soon (if Madison couldn’t already see that then we have problems!) and about Svitolina that “she’s just getting balls back”. Keys won four straight games as she started to rally (!) and Svitolina made some mistakes and costly double faults.
Keys did well to hold two service games with scoreboard pressure at *4-5 and *5-6 (especially the game at *4-5 which came after a long Svitolina service game where she had a break point). By the end of the set, Keys was in control of the match. She was making errors, but there was much more margin on her shots and she was also decent at the net. Svitolina was in the ascendancy in the tiebreak with the mini break but played two terrible points. Keys took advantage of that lapse and won the next two points on her serve to close out the set.
Keys is a real conundrum… her strokes are so flat and they can completely spray when she’s not confident or just not in her rhythm. At the start, she was belting the ball but she was way behind the baseline. She improved during the set in terms of coming forward more and to be honest, to come from 0-4 down in the first set was a really solid effort. Svitolina retired midway during the second set with a lower back injury with Keys leading 7-6 4-2.
Although it ended with a retirement, this was a noteworthy result for Keys in the sense that she was able to turn around the first set from playing rock bottom tennis. It’s hard to really judge Petra’s performances right now because we don’t really know how she’s feeling physically. This will still be an engaging match-up and a pretty crucial one for both. In my preview of her match against Jelena Jankovic in Cincy, I wrote about how Keys has failed to back up first round wins. This one feels a little different because she is playing the number two seed although i’m not sure if you can class Kvitova as the favourite. Expect some flashy winners but probably a couple of errors (X 1000). I’d love to see Kvitova pick up a win but i’m favouring Keys.
Prediction: Keys d. Kvitova in 3 sets