The great third round matches just keep on coming… Muguruza-Kvitova will headline the schedule on the National Tennis Stadium but the first of the last 16 matches will be on the Lotus Court at not before 6.30pm local time where the number eight and nine seeds, Madison Keys and Svetlana Kuznetsova, will meet for the first time this year.
Keys played the big points better to nick a straight sets win over Kristina Mladenovic on Monday, 7-5 6-4. This was a wild match, one of the messiest i’ve watched all year. Keys lost four games in a row from 4-1 up in the first set but Mladenovic couldn’t serve it out, missing two set points; the first of those was a big forehand that didn’t miss by much. In contrast, Keys took one of her set points two games later, blasting a forehand winner down-the-line.
Keys had a match point at 5-2 in the second set which she missed and then failed to serve it out at *5-3 with one of several dreadful misses at the net. However when faced in the really crux moments of the match, it was Mladenovic who all too often faltered. Serving with scoreboard pressure at *4-5, the Frenchwoman was broken to love. It wasn’t pretty but Keys did at least maintain a high percentage of first serves in the second set at 80% and she got the win not playing well, a nack that she has really developed this year. I’d just love to see her play a clean match from start to finish but i’m not sure it exists in her repertoire!
Kuznetsova continues to impress and keep her hopes intact, like Keys, of qualifying for the WTA Finals in Singapore. Kuznetsova defeated Misaki Doi, 6-1 7-5 in the second round of Beijing on Tuesday after receiving a performance bye following her run to the semi-finals in Wuhan.
Head-to-head record: This will be the third time that Keys and Kuznetsova have played each other on the tour. Kuznetsova was forced to retire from their first ever match in Montreal in 2014. In their only completed match, Keys won at the start of last year in Sydney, 6-4 6-4.
Interesting stat: One of Kuznetsova’s issues in recent years (which she had discussed in press) was starting slow at tournaments and coming up against quality early opposition; last year she lost her first match at eight out of 21 tournaments. This year she has been much steadier, losing just four times in her first match. In fact, she’s won her first match at every tournament she has played since Eastbourne in June.
Final thoughts: Keys has not done well this year against counter-punchers on tour – her last six losses have been to Halep (x3), Kerber, Wozniacki and Putintseva. I wouldn’t quite class Kuznetsova in that category but she’s a very dynamic mover and can soak up a lot of pressure. She can really go for her shots and play positively up into the court but against a player like Keys, it will be difficult to take control. When you look at a lot of Keys’s recent results, she’s been winning ugly a lot of the time. I’ve been waiting for that moment where she uses that as a confidence boost and flicks a switch but it hasn’t quite happened.
This could be a fun match with a nice contrast in styles. Furthermore, there’s a lot on the line with both players in the hunt for qualification spots at the WTA Finals in Singapore. I’m expecting a lot of momentum swings in this one…