Madison Keys vs Ashleigh Barty French Open Picks & Predictions - 6/5/2019
Madison Keys vs Ashleigh Barty
4am EST, 5th June 2019
Roland Garros (Paris, France)
Madison Keys is only a step away from defending all the points she accumulated last year in this tournament. It was a pretty unlikely run because she is not really considered as a clay court aficionado. Repeating the last year success at the biggest clay tournament of them all will force everyone to rank her much higher on this surface, because now it's obvious that was not a fluke. She had a couple of close one this time around, but in the end, her power was simply overwhelming for her opponents. She was highly efficient behind her 1st serve, which we don't see too often on WTA tour. Winning those points at a 70% rate is a big weapon and gives her freedom to be very aggressive when returning, because she can step inside the baseline and attack those weaker servers, putting them under tremendous pressure. That was obvious more than ever in her last match vs Katerina Siniakova, who is solid doubles player and doesn't have that bad of a serve. Keys was able to win 56% of returning points, get the break 5 times out of 6 tries and win the match comfortably 6-2, 6-4.
Speaking of defending points, Barty didn't have that pressure before this tournament. She was eliminated in the 2nd round by Serena Williams last year, meaning that everything she won beyond the second round this year is securing her surplus of points and very likely a jump in the WTA rankings. Her ride was far less bumpy thus far. She stormed through the first three rounds, beating Pegula, Collins, and Petkovic without dropping a single set. That streak was ended vs Sofia Kenin in the 4th round when American managed to level the match to 1 set all. From that point on Barty kicked it up a notch, leaving Sofia behind and not turning back until the end. Dominant returning performance with 61% points won with her return, breaking Kenin in all 3 of her service games. 29-15 in total points won and only 2 unforced errors.
Looking at their H2H record, there is a lot of variety there. They have met on all 3 playing surfaces already. Twice on the grass in 2011, splitting those two. Keys sweeping Barty of the court in French open 2017, and Australian returning the favor in this year's Fed Cup (hard courts). I guess the most relevant scoreline when analyzing tomorrow's matchup should be the one from Roland Garros 2017. But we also have to understand that conditions tomorrow will be way slower comparing to that 2017 meeting. It will offer some advantage to both of the players. Obviously, Barty will have an easier task controlling that brutal power of Madison Keys. It was something she had most issues with 2 years ago, which resulted in a comprehensive defeat. On the other side, Keys might not get the same winner/unforced errors ratio as in warmer conditions, but she will be able to put more pressure on Barty when returning. With serves being slowed down, she can step into the court and fire that forehand right under Ashleigh's legs.
Betting odds & prediction
Barty is being favored by 3 games, with total sitting at 21.5 games. I believe this one comes down to which player is able to think on her feet better and adjust to these changing playing conditions. In my opinion, that should be Ashleigh with some more variety in her game and ability to come and close out the point at the net, when conditions are not allowing winners to be hit from the back of the court. Keys is an elite ball striker, but if that's not working for her at a given moment, her game will most likely fall apart.
Guy's Pick: Ashleigh Barty -160
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