PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 09: Maria Sakkari of Greece returns a ball in her Quarter Final match against Iga Swiatek of Poland during day eleven of the 2021 French Open at Roland Garros on June 09, 2021 in Paris, France. (Photo by Tnani Badreddine/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Tennis | Madrid Open 2022 | Muguruza and Osaka look to send statement as Sakkari and Keys face off
Maria Sakkariheads into the clay-court season with confidence having had a positive start to the season. However the fourth seed will look to prove that she can match the high standard that Iga Swiatek and Paula Badosa have set at the start of this clay court swing. As she looks to defend her semi-final performance from last year’s Roland Garros and will know how important Madrid and Rome will be in terms of confidence if she wants to go deep in Paris again.
First up for Sakkari is Madison Keys who has struggled since reaching the semi-finals at the Australian Open. The American will look to prove a point on what has traditionally been her favourite surface as injuries and inconsistency have been obstacles in continuing her form into latter stages of tournament. Madrid’s faster court surface will surely be suited to Keys but the question can she take advantage and score a big win en route to Roland Garros?
This should be a good opening test for Sakkari, who’s defensive skillset will be tested early against the American’s ferocious power. Keys will like conditions and will be determined to play the match on her terms but Sakkari’s quality on serve as well as overall usage of the court could prove problematic for the American here as the head-to-head record suggests.
Prediction: Sakkari in three sets.
Garbine Muguruza  v Ajla Tomljanovic H2H & Match Fundamentals
Garbine Muguruza will hope Madrid is a turning point in her season after achieving an underwhelming start to the season. Reaching the quarter-finals in Doha has been her best result since winning the WTA Finals late last year and has seemed to lack confidence and authority in her play since her big victory in Mexico. The Spaniard will hope her recent trip to Africa can be the perfect mental refresher to get her 2022 season underway as she prepares for a busy next couple of months.
First up for Muguruza is Ajla Tomljanovic with the Australian needing a bit of a confidence boost herself. Since reaching the quarter-finals at Wimbledon last year, Tomljanovic hasn’t managed to find that level again and has often lost tight matches over the last six months. Now the world number 38 will be hoping a resurgence is around the corner and her powerful consistency from the baseline can come back on the red clay.
This is a tough first match for Muguruza and will need to get her confidence back quickly in order to dominate the tempo of the match and win this match. Tomljanovic’s ball-striking will be present and will cause the Spaniard problems early on but it should be the seventh seed who progresses into the next round.
It was nearly this time last year since Naomi Osaka’s boycott of clay and grass court events and now the Japanese star looks to have matured on and off the court with her mental approach. Osaka’s final defeat to Iga Swiatek in Miami shows she has a long way to go in terms of matching her top level but will be encouraged by her overall play against the rest of the field. Now Osaka will look to take her hard court form onto her weakest surface as she looks to develop a title challenge at Roland Garros.
First for Osaka though is the in-form Russian Anastasia Potapova who won the Istanbul title last week. Potapova has proven her talent in the past by beating the likes of Angelique Kerber on clay and has the ferocious ball-striking and consistency to match. Now Potapova looks to continue her form in bigger events.
This will be a tough match for Osaka with Potapova clearly in form and hitting the ball well. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the former world number one lost this match but the conditions will suit her game and if she’s aggressive enough can break down Potapova’s defensive limitations.
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