Zhuhai | Keys sees off top-seeded Kasatkina
No 6 seed Madison Keys earned a win in her opening match of the Elite Trophy, defeating the top seed Daria Kasatkina in the Azalea Group round robin action, 6-2 6-4.
I think I had a really good start today and that definitely helped me. Even a pretty good start in the second set. I think I served well. I think there was a little bit of a lull in the second set, but overall I was happy with that, Madison Keys
The victory moves the American to the top of the standings in the group, and she will have a chance to secure her spot in the semi-finals with a 2-0 record should she defeat China’s Wang Qiang in her second match on Friday.
Keys improved her overall head-to-head against the Russian No 1 to 4-0 with an hour, 9 minute victory, as she hit fives aces and broke serve six times.
She built up a 5-1 lead with 2 consecutive breaks in the 4th and 6th games.
Although Kasatkina pulled one break back on her third chance for 2-5, Keys broke for the 3rd time to 15 to seal the first set, 6-2.
Both players traded breaks twice from the 4th to 7th games in the second as the American built up a 6-2 4-2 lead, but Kasatkina broke back and held her serve to draw level to 4-4 in the second set.
The American picked up some momentum and, after saving a match point in the 10th game, Kasatkina had a game point of her own to level the match at 5-5, but ultimately Keys proved too tough and secured her third straight sets victory in the pair’s four career meetings.
“I think I had a really good start today and that definitely helped me,” said Keys after the match. “Even a pretty good start in the second set.
“I think I served well. I think there was a little bit of a lull in the second set, but overall I was happy with that,” she added.
“I think I returned really well, which is something I’ve been focusing on. Overall, I think I played really solid and went out and did what I needed to do.”
Keys next plays Wang Qiang in her Group on Friday.
The American has beaten the Chinese No 1 twice this season, but in the first 3 months of the year at the Australian Open and Qatar Total Open in Doha, well before Wang’s tear-through the Asian swing, pair of titles on home soil, and Top 30 debut.
“I’ve actually played her twice already this year, but I expect the match to be completely different this time around,” Keys said.
“She’s had an incredible, like, six weeks, seven weeks. I think she’s probably really high in confidence and feeling her game.”
“I’m probably not even going to watch the matches that I played her and more focus on the last couple of weeks for her and see what she’s doing well and hopefully play well enough to get through.”
In order to maintain her chances to move to the semi-finals, Keys needs to beat China’s Wang Qiang and fitness remains a factor since the American has struggled with a left knee injury in her last two tournaments, retiring at the second-round in Wuhan and giving a walkover at the same stage in Beijing.
She has also opted out of the Fed Cup finals because of the knee.