In only her second match this year, Madison Keys looks to move a step closer to the Indian Wells title when she takes on Naomi Osaka. The American is still inside the top 10 despite not playing a match this year due to much of her successes coming from the clay season onwards.
Watch the Keys vs Osaka Live Here.
Osaka is low on matches herself with just a 5-3 record in 2017. The Japanese has looked impressive through two rounds at Indian Wells, winning back to back matches 6-4 6-2. Qualifier Risa Ozaki was first up while more impressively 30th seed Shuai Zhang also had little answer for the game of the 19 year old. Osaka broke at will with a total of five breaks of serve against her higher ranked opponent.
Wrist surgery delayed Keys’ start to the season but she showed little sign of rustiness in her return win against Mariana Duque-Marino, winning 6-1 7-5. It would have been far less flattering for the Colombian if Keys had converted one of the many match points she had in games from 5-1 up. After getting pegged back to 5-5, she held a nerve to break and hold and avoid getting in a dogfight so early in her return.
Keys and Osaka have met once before and it ended in heartbreak for Osaka who looked like she was in the process of pulling off a statement win in the fourth round of last year’s US Open. Leading 5-1 in the deciding set, Osaka fell apart as she lost 5 of the next 6 games to end up in a tiebreak. With the mental damage already done, Keys took the tiebreak to deny her opponent victory.
Another 6 months on, Osaka still remains raw and precocious but can take into account the lessons learnt in her loss and is more than capable of surprising Keys on this occasion especially with the American so early into her return from surgery.
Prediction – Madison Keys in three sets