An all-Top 50 encounter in the form of Monica Puig and Daria Kasatkina takes place in Round 2 of the Volvo Car Open.
Monica Puig (No.40) vs Daria Kasatkina (No.42)
Overview: Monica Puig came into Charleston with a modest 9-8 win-loss record. Puig is coming off a disappointing March, posing a 1-2 record in Indian Wells and Miami. Her best performances of the year came in Doha and Acapulco, where she made the semifinals and quarterfinals respectively. Puig started off her Charleston campaign with a retirement from her Czech opponent, Katerina Siniakova. Siniakova had the brighter start but a back injury derailed her campaign, eventually retiring down 1-4 in the decider.
Daria Kasatkina has been no better in 2017. Since her quarterfinal appearance in Doha, she has lost three straight matches. Her most noteworthy performances came in her two wins against World No.1 Angelique Kerber, but has been unable to replicate the form against other players. She is in need of some form heading into her favourite clay. In her first rounder, she dismantled Danka Kovinic 6-1 6-2, in less than an hour.
Head to head: They are tied at a win apiece, with Kasatkina winning their first match in Indian Wells last year. Puig got the win in their recent encounter in Doha this year. Both were tight three-setters.
Thoughts: Expecting this match to go the distance again. The faster green clay may help Puig hit through Kasatkina easier. Furthermore, Kasatkina’s last two losses was to Shelby Rogers and Kristyna Pliskova, both big hitters, so Puig may prove to be a challenge for Kasatkina. However Puig can be erratic at times, giving loose errors to her opponents, so I’m going for the Russian to slide into the third round.
Prediction: Kasatkina to beat Puig in three