(9) Madison Keys (No.9) vs Naomi Osaka (No.51)
Overview: Playing her first match in 2017, Madison Keys withstood a late comeback from Mariana Duque-Marino to capture the victory. Duque-Mariño started to fight in the middle of the second set and made things difficult for Keys to close out the match. Keys was broken when serving for the match twice. The tension and rustiness from Keys was obvious, but she managed to break once more and closed the match out on her eight match point.
Naomi Osaka struggled in Australia and Dubai, only winning three matches throughout the year. However she started her Indian Wells campaign brightly, starting with a 6-4 6-2 victory over fellow Japanese player Risa Ozaki before dispatching No.30 seed Zhang Shuai in the same scoreline. Osaka’s aggressiveness shone through as Zhang found it difficult to execute her game plan. Osaka attacked anything that was short and it paid off.
Head to head: They met each other once before at last year’s US Open, where Osaka was leading 5-1 in the third but crumbled and eventually Keys took the match on a third set-tiebreak.
Thoughts: Osaka should have learnt her lesson from the US Open defeat, and I think if she plays like how she did against Zhang, she should be able to beat a rusty Keys. Going with the World No.51 for the upset.
Prediction: Osaka to beat Keys in three sets