Johanna Konta vs. Daria Kasatkina, US Open R1 Preview

???? US OPEN, R1 match preview
?? (16) Johanna Konta vs. ?? Daria Kasatkina

Johanna Konta will begin her 2019 US Open campaign with a potentially tricky first round meeting with Russia’s Daria Kasatkina. Konta has had a resurgent season headlined by a semi-final showing at Roland Garros and a quarter-final showing at Wimbledon. The US Open is now the only major where Konta hasn’t made it to the quarter-finals, can the British number 1 change that at Flushing Meadows in 2019?

Johanna Konta’s US Open preparation hasn’t been ideal. Konta suffered back-to-back opening round defeats in Toronto and Cincinnati, a straight set loss to Dayana Yastremska in Toronto was followed by a 3 set loss to Rebecca Peterson in Cincinnati. It has therefore been just over 5 months since Konta has won a match on a hard court, dating back to Miami, not ideal heading into the final Grand Slam of the year.

It has been a really tough season for Daria Kasatkina. However, the Russian is starting to show some small signs of a form reversal during the US Open series. Kasatkina hasn’t won back-to-back matches since Rome but has played a few good matches in recent times. Kasatkina defeated Angelique Kerber in Toronto before pushing eventual champion Bianca Andreescu deep into a third set. Kasatkina then beat an in-form Barbora Strycova in Cincinnati before succumbing to eventual champion Madison Keys.

Kasatkina holds a 2-1 head-to-head record over Konta. Kasatkina has won the last 2 meetings between the pair including a 6-4 6-3 victory on route to winning the Moscow title last year.

I’m going to go for the upset here and side with the Russian. It seems Kasatkina is due for a big win and Konta’s form slump may continue. Kasatkina will be relatively confident heading into this match having won the last two meetings between the pair and having played a good couple of matches in recent weeks. Kasatkina’s defensive skills and versatility can trouble Konta, especially early in a tournament when Konta is likely to be rusty having not won a hard court match in a long time.

Prediction: Daria Kasatkina to defeat Johanna Konta in 3 sets

Daria Kasatkina vs. Madison Keys, Zhuhai RR Preview

WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai, Group Stage – Preview
?? (1) Daria Kasatkina vs. ?? (6) Madison Keys

Daria Kasatkina will have the chance to become the first player to secure a place in the semi-finals when she takes on Madison Keys in Zhuhai on Wednesday. Kasatkina claimed an extremely hard-fought 3-set win over Qiang Wang in her Zhuhai debut but will have to overcome a negative record against Madison Keys if she is to secure her place in the final 4, can she do it?

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Daria Kasatkina arrived in Zhuhai on high having won the Kremlin Cup in Moscow in her most recent event. Kasatkina’s confidence was evident as she got off to a flying start against Qiang Wang, the match turned into a real battle which is where Kasatkina thrived. The Russian managed to fight back in the deciding set to claim a 6-1 2-6 7-5 win. Kasatkina’s defensive skills overwhelmed Wang, she will need those defensive skills to be on point if she has a chance of beating Keys.

Madison Keys arrives in Zhuhai under a large injury could. Madison’s Asian swing was again totally derailed by injury. Keys got through her first round matches in Wuhan and Beijing before being struck down by injury in the next round on each occasion. It is therefore somewhat surprising that Keys has elected to travel to Zhuhai but no doubt she is here looking to regain some confidence and end the season on a high. Keys will be competing in Zhuhai for the first time since competing in the inaugural event in 2015 where she failed to progress past the group stage.

Keys holds a commanding 3-0 head-to-head record over Kasatkina. A couple of those wins were comfortable straight set wins including a 6-2 6-1 thrashing in Cincinnati in their most recent match.

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Daria Kasatkina vs. Qiang Wang, Zhuhai RR Preview

WTA Elite Trophy, Group Stage: ?? (1) Daria Kasatkina vs. ?? (11) Qiang Wang

The first night session match of the 2018 Elite Trophy Zhuhai is an exciting encounter between the top seeded Daria Kasatkina and China’s number 1 Qiang Wang. Kasatkina and Wang both arrive in Zhuhai full of confidence given their recent successes. Expect a high quality match.

Qiang Wang of China in action during her semi-final match at the 2018 Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open WTA International tennis tournament

Daria Kasatkina arrives in Zhuhai on a high having won the Kremlin Cup a few weeks ago. As a result of winning the Kremlin Cup, Kasatkina was the first alternate in Singapore where she has been training over the last week but did not get the opportunity to play a match. Kasatkina’s title run at home in Moscow was a big relief for the Russian having generally been in poor form during the second half of the year and having lost her 3 previous finals. Kasatkina will be competing in Zhuhai for the first time, with the added pressure of being the top seed.

Qiang Wang has been one of the form players on tour over the last few months. Wang originally received a wild card event but ultimately qualified on her own merits because of her great recent form. Wang has won 19 of her last 23 matches and has reached at least the semi-final stage in all 5 of her most recent events. It is clear that Wang is a player on the rise under the guidance of Peter McNamara. At home, in China, it will be interesting to see if Wang can continue to shine and potentially become the first Chinese player to win this title. This will be the first time Wang has competed in Zhuhai.

Kasatkina holds a 3-1 head-to-head record over Wang. The most recent match between the pair took place earlier this year in Madrid, Kasatkina won 7-5 7-6. The three prior matches between the pair all went the distance, this has proven to be tight match-up.

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Sloane Stephens vs. Daria Kasatkina, Roland Garros QF Preview

?? Roland Garros, QF Preview
?? (10) Sloane Stephens vs. ?? (14) Daria Kasatkina

Sloane Stephens and Daria Kasatkina will renew hostilities when they meet at the quarter-final stage at Roland Garros on Tuesday. Stephens and Kasatkina have both reached career highs in recent times, both head into this match full of confidence as they aim to reach a maiden semi-final in Paris. This looks like a fairly even match-up on paper, expect to see a lot of entertaining rallies between these two, who will step up and reach the semi-finals?

Sloane Stephens of the United States in action during her third-round match at the 2018 Roland Garros Grand Slam tennis tournament

Sloane Stephens has cruised into the quarter-finals in Paris, untroubled in all but 1 of her four matches so far at Roland Garros. The reigning U.S Open champion started the event with easy straight set wins over Arantxa Rus and Magdalena Frech before surviving a huge scare to defeat Camila Giorgi 4-6 6-1 8-6. Giorgi twice served for the match in the third set but Stephens maintained her focus and composure and was ultimately too strong for the Italian. Sloane produced a near-flawless performance to defeat Anett Kontaveit 6-2 6-0 and book her spot in the quarter-finals in Paris to ensure she has now reached the final 8 at each Grand Slam, Sloane certainly saves her best tennis for the bigger events.

Daria Kasatkina is into her first Grand Slam quarter-final as she continues to climb up the rankings. Kasatkina also started the week with a couple of straight set wins, beating Kaia Kanepi and Kirsten Flipkens pretty comfortably. It was at the third round stage where Kasatkina dropped her only set on route to the final 8 in a hard-fought 6-1 1-6 6-3 win over Maria Sakkari. The Russian secured her spot in the quarter-finals with an impressive 7-6 6-3 victory over the 2nd seeded Caroline Wozniacki. The match was postponed with the score tied at 3-3 in the second set, on resumption the next day Kasatkina played great tennis to win 3 straight games.

The head-to-head record between the pair is split at 1 win apiece. Stephens beat Kasatkina in a long 3 set match on clay in Charleston back in 2016 whilst more recently Kasatkina defeated Stephens 6-4 6-3 at Indian Wells earlier this year.

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Daria Kasatkina vs. Maria Sakkari, Roland Garros R3 Preview

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?? (14) Daria Kasatkina vs. ?? Maria Sakkari

A Fascinating third round clash on Friday in Paris sees the 14th seeded Daria Kasatkina take on Maria Sakkari. This will be as close as it gets to playing against a clone for these two, Kasatkina and Sakkari have very similar playing styles, similar strengths and similar weaknesses. Both have moved into the third round without dropping a set and both are aiming to reach the second week in Paris for the first time, who will prevail?

Daria Kasatkina of Russia in action during her second-round match at the 2018 Roland Garros Grand Slam tennis tournament

The expectations are high for Kasatkina heading into this year’s tournament. Kasatkina has had some great results in 2018, most notably a run to the final at Indian Wells and more recently a quarter-final appearance in Madrid. Kasatkina has the perfect game to thrive on clay and she is now into the third round in Paris for the third straight year courtesy of straight set wins over Kaia Kanepi and Kristen Flipkens. If Kasatkina wins this she is likely to face Wozniacki next, an opponent she has beaten on the last few occasions, so there is a big opportunity for Kasatkina to reach new heights.

Maria Sakkari is into the third round in Paris for the first time, Sakkari has now reached the third round at every Grand Slam on 1 occasion. Sakkari arrived in Paris with confidence after claiming two huge wins over Kiki Bertens and Karolina Pliskova in Rome. Sakkari has produced two typically gutsy performances to start her Roland Garros campaign, a 7-6 6-2 win over Mandy Minella followed by a noteworthy 7-5 6-3 win over the 23rd seeded Carla Suarez Navarro.

Interestingly the pair have met at the tour level on just 1 previous occasion. It was Kasatkina who won that match, a 6-1 7-5 win on clay in Bucharest back in 2015, both have improved significantly since then.

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Daria Kasatkina vs. Kaia Kanepi, Roland Garros R1 Preview

Roland Garros, R1 Preview
?? (14) Daria Kasatkina vs. ?? Kaia Kanepi

The 14th seeded Daria Kasatkina begins her 2018 Roland Garros campaign on Monday with a potentially dangerous clash against Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi. Kasatkina is one to look out for in Paris, the 21-year-old is a player on the rise and is seemingly ready to take the next step and push towards the later stage of a Grand Slam for the first time.

Kasatkina’s recent form has been decent. A quarter-final showing in Madrid which included wins over Q. Wang, Cirstea and Muguruza before succumbing to Kvitova and more recently a third round showing in Rome where she beat Tomljanovic and Collins before succumbing to Svitolina. Kasatkina has reached the third round in Paris in the last few years and will hope to go a step further and reach the second week in 2018.

Kanepi’s recent form is not too impressive, winning just 1 main draw match on clay in 2018. Kanepi was in action in Strasbourg last week where she made her way through the qualifying draw before suffering a very disappointing opening round loss at the hands of Su-Wei Hsieh from a set and a break up.

It is Kanepi who has had the better of this match-up of late. Kanepi holds a 2-1 H2H record over Kasatkina and has won their two most recent matches. The pair met earlier this year in Brisbane where Kanepi won 6-2 6-2. However, it was Kasatkina who won their only previous match on clay back in 2015, it is Kasatkina who is favoured by this surface.

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Daria Kasatkina vs. Sorana Cirstea, Madrid R2 Preview

Mutua Madrid Open, R2 Preview
?? (14) Daria Kasatkina vs. ?? Sorana Cirstea

Daria Kasatkina and Sorana Cirstea will go head-to-head for the very first time when they meet at the second round stage of the Mutua Madrid Open on Tuesday. This looms as a great opportunity for both to gain some much needed confidence and kick-start their clay court campaigns after arriving in Madrid on the back of multiple opening round defeats.

Daria Kasatkina of Russia in action at the 2018 Mutua Madrid Open

Kasatkina and Cirstea both arrives in Madrid having lost 3 matches in a row, both were able to break their losing steaks with hard-fought victories. Kasatkina claimed a 7-5 7-6 win over Qiang Wang whilst Cirstea defeated Katerina Siniakova 6-4 2-6 6-4.

It is Cirstea who has the far better recent record in Madrid. Cirstea has reached the quarter-final stage in Madrid in the last couple of years whilst Kasatkina has been defeated in the opening round in the last couple of years.

It will be interesting to see how this match pans out in their first career meeting.

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Daria Kasatkina vs Naomi Osaka, Indian Wells Final Preview

BNP Paribas Open, ??? Indian Wells Preview #BNPPO18
?? Final: ?? (20) Daria Kasatkina vs ?? Naomi Osaka

The next generation is here! The first premier mandatory event will come to an exciting finale on Sunday as the 20th seeded Daria Kasatkina takes on Naomi Osaka, a pair 20-year-old’s. Kasatkina and Osaka have both beaten several quality opponents on route to the Indian Wells final, both dropping just 1 set on route to the final. This will be the first career meeting between Kasatkina and Osaka, two inexperienced players on this huge stage. With so much on the line, who will step up and make the most of this golden opportunity?

Naomi Osaka of Japan in action during the semi-final of the 2018 BNP Paribas Open WTA Premier Mandatory tennis tournament

Kasatkina and Osaka will both be playing for the biggest title of their careers. In fact, Osaka is yet to win a WTA title and has only played in 1 final, beaten by Caroline Wozniacki in Tokyo in 2016. Kasatkina has 1 career title to her name, a triumph in Charleston on green clay last year. Kasatkina has played in 2 other finals, including a straight set loss to Elina Svitolina last month in Dubai.

Daria Kasatkina’s route to the final has been extremely impressive. The Russian stared the week with a straight set win over Katerina Siniakova before claiming 3 consecutive straight set wins over Grand Slam champions: 6-4 6-3 over Sloane Stephens, 6-4 7-5 over Caroline Wozniacki and 6-0 6-2 over Angelique Kerber. Kasatkina secured her spot in the biggest final of her career with a gripping 4-6 6-4 7-5 win over Venus Williams, a fourth consecutive victory over a Grand Slam champion and a 6th victory over a top 10 opponent in the last month and a half. Kasatkina was behind for the large majority of her win over Venus, at 4-5 0-30 down and on a second serve in the deciding set, it looked like Kasatkina was gone. The Russian showed great heart, she went on to drop just 1 point from that stage to claim one of the biggest wins of her career.




Naomi Osaka’s route to the final has also been impressive. Osaka has beaten 3 former / current world number 1’s. Osaka started the event with straight set wins over Maria Sharapova and Agnieszka Radwanska, great wins over 2 very different opponents. Osaka then went on to beat Sachia Vickery in 3 sets before being pushed to a third set for the only time at this event as she beat Maria Sakkari in the fourth round. Osaka’s two most recent victories were arguably her most impressive, a 6-2 6-3 demolition of Karolina Pliskova and a 6-3 6-0 thrashing of Simona Halep. To drop a combined 8 games in wins over Pliskova and Halep is outstanding. There is no doubt that Osaka has shown consistency that we have never previously seen from her, a new sense of maturity and belief is evident in her game.

This match-up will feature a fascinating contrast in styles. The hard, flat hitting of Osaka against the heavy game of Kasatkina and the Russian’s outstanding movement. It will be interesting to see how this match pans out in the first career meeting between the two and with so much on the line, who will prevail?

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Venus Williams vs Daria Kasatkina, Indian Wells SF Preview

BNP Paribas Open, ??? Indian Wells SF Preview
?? (8) Venus Williams vs. ?? (20) Daria Kasatkina

Friday’s opening semi-final from the BNP Paribas Open sees the 8th seeded Venus Williams come up against the 20th seeded Daria Kasatkina. Williams and Kasatkina have both been very impressive on route to the semi-final stage in Indian Wells, both Williams and Kasatkina have reached the final 4 without dropping a set. The pair played out a couple of epic matches in 2016, both ended deep in a third set, split 1 win apiece. Expect another great battle between these two given how well they have both played in the Californian desert.

Venus Williams of the United States in action at the 2018 BNP Paribas Open WTA Premier Mandatory tennis tournament

The evergreen Venus Williams is into yet another semi-final, 16 years after she reached world number 1 for the first time. Venus has had to overcome all types of different challenges over the last week and a half. Most notably, Venus was able to defeat Serena for the first time in 4 years in the third round with a 6-3 6-4 victory. Venus also claimed a straight set win over Sorana Cirstea before booking her spot in the final 4 with wins over Anastasija Sevastova and Carla Suarez Navarro, two potentially tricky opponents for the American. Venus’s commanding 6-3 6-2 win over Suarez Navarro on Thursday evening was particularly impressive.

Daria Kasatkina is in red-hot form. Kasatkina has won 11 of her last 14 matches which includes a semi-final appearance in St. Petersburg and a runner-up performance in Dubai last month. Kasatkina continues to be a giant killer. Kasatkina has beaten 5 top 10 opponents in the last 2 months including back-to-back victories over top 10 opponents to reach the biggest semi-final of her career in Indian Wells. Kasatkina has rocketed past 3 Grand Slam champions in a row: a 6-4 6-3 win over Sloane Stephens, 6-4 7-5 over Caroline Wozniacki and finally a 6-0 6-2 demolition of Angelique Kerber. The slow, high bouncing hard courts in Indian Wells are proving perfect for the heavy Kasatkina forehand and her amazing defensive abilities.

The head-to-head record between the pair is split at 1 win apiece. Both matches were back in 2016, Kasatkina shocked Venus in Auckland, a 6-7 6-3 6-3 win before Venus outlasted Kasatkina in an epic at Wimbledon, 7-5 4-6 10-8. 2 years later, Kasatkina has improved dramatically but Venus has also improved. Who will emerge victorious on this occasion?

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Angelique Kerber vs Daria Kasatkina, Indian Wells QF Preview

BNP Paribas Open, ??? Indian Wells QF Preview
?? (10) Angelique Kerber vs. ?? (20) Daria Kasatkina

Angelique Kerber and Daria Kasatkina will renew hostilities when they meet at the quarter-final stage of the 2018 BNP Paribas Open. Kerber and Kasatkina both bring scintillating form into this final 8 clash in Indian Wells, whilst the head-to-head record between the pair is tied at 2-2. All signs point to a very close, competitive clash between two of the best movers on the tour.

Daria Kasatkina of Russia in action at the 2018 BNP Paribas Open WTA Premier Mandatory tennis tournament

Kerber has rocketed through to the final 8 in Indian Wells after a slow start to the event. Kerber was in trouble in her opening round match as she trailed Ekaterina Markova by a set but the German responded strongly in a rain interrupted clash, winning 3-6 6-4 6-2. Kerber then overcame another troublesome start to defeat defending champion Elena Vesnina 7-5 6-2. There was no such slow start for Kerber in the fourth round where she thrashed Caroline Garcia 6-1 6-1 in what was a near-flawless performance by the 2-time major winner.

Daria Kasatkina is in some of the best form of her young career. Kasatkina ignited her reason last month with a semi-final showing in St. Petersburg and a run to the final in Dubai where she took out several big names such as Johanna Konta and Garbine Muguruza. Kasatkina has not dropped a set on route to the final 8 in Indian Wells. The 20th seed secured her spot in the quarter-finals by beating the two most recent Grand Slam champions, a 6-4 6-3 win over Sloane Stephens and a 6-4 7-5 win over Caroline Wozniacki. Kasatkina’s second win over Wozniacki in as many months was particularly impressive, not many players are able to outsmart Wozniacki but the Russian is making a habit out of doing just that.

This has proven to be a very close matchup. The head-to-head record between the two is split at 2 wins apiece. Their most recent match took place in Tokyo last year where Kerber won 7-6 6-3. The pair met on two other occasions in 2017, Kasatkina won 6-4 0-6 6-4 in Doha and 7-6 6-2 in Sydney.

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