Damien Kayat previews the WTA Tour Silicon Valley Classic between Ons Jabeur and Madison Keys as well as Maria Sakkari and Shelby Rogers on 4 August 2022.
2022 WTA Tour
Silicon Valley Classic
San Jose State University (Outdoor Hardcourts)
Selected Round of 16 Matches- 4th August
Ons Jabeur (3) (41/100) vs Madison Keys (37/20)
Ons Jabeur will be hitting the court for the first time since her soul-crushing defeat in the Wimbledon final. To be fair, Jabeur seems to have the perfect attitude to deal with such a crushing disappointment. The trailblazing Tunisian has enjoyed a remarkable campaign that has seen her win 36 out of 46 matches.
She has a remarkable all-court dexterity that has been a key factor in her success. She was the 2nd best clay-court player this year behind Iga Swiatek. She won her maiden WTA 1000 title in Madrid before reaching the final in Rome.
She followed that up with an excellent grass-court campaign, with victory in Berlin followed by that glorious run to the Wimbledon final. But her hardcourt record has probably been the weakest part of her game this year (she has won 8 out of 13 matches on the surface). Her cunning use of slice and drop-shots isn’t quite as effective on these zippier, harder surfaces.
It’s crazy to think that these two players- at 27- are the same age. It makes you realise how young Madison Keys was when she burst onto the Grand Slam scene. The big-serving American was just 19 years of age when she reached her maiden Grand Slam semi-final in Australia.
It announced the arrival of a true Grand Slam specialist. Keys would go on to reach a further four Grand Slam semi-finals (her most impressive showing came when she reached the final of the 2017 US Open). Four of her Grand Slam semi-finals have come on her favoured hardcourts.
She hits massive groundstrokes that few can withstand when she is at her best. But she has been wildly inconsistent throughout her career and has perhaps underdelivered on her potential. But 2022 has seen quite a resurgence from Keys. She has won 20 of 31 matches this season, winning her 6th WTA title at the Adelaide International 2.
She further showcased her hardcourt acumen with a semi-final at the Aussie Open and a quarterfinal at Indian Wells. Furthermore, she won this title in 2017 (though that was a year before it moved to its current venue).
Verdict: Madison Keys to win at 37/20- This will be the first career meeting between these two. Keys looked devastating in her first-round victory against Zhang Shuai. If she finds her rhythm early, I think she stands a chance against Jabeur.
Keys has won 14 out of 20 matches on hardcourts this year and she has risen back to 23 in the world rankings. Jabeur will look to disrupt the pace of the match with her slice and guile.
But I just think there’s enough value in backing Keys (especially when she’s playing this well on hardcourts).
Maria Sakkari (1) vs Shelby Rogers
I was really surprised to see Sakkari leading the seeds this week.
I would have put good money on the fact that Ons Jabeur was ahead of her in the WTA rankings. But it’s easy to forget that the Greek star came out of the blocks hot this year, highlighting her hardcourt expertise with a string of excellent performances. She lost in the St Petersburg final before a semi-final run in Qatar.
She then enjoyed her best performance of the year with a run to the final of Indian Wells. But her clay and grass-court campaigns were far less productive. Sakkari should be thrilled with this switch back to harder surfaces. Sakkari reached the final of this event when it was first staged at this venue in 2018.
Her strong serve and powerful groundstrokes make her an ideal candidate to win this title.
I knew that Rogers was going to pull off the surprise against Bianca Andreescu. Despite Andreescu’s recent improvements, this type of surface is just perfect for the American’s flat power-hitting.
Rogers took her head-to-head record against Andreescu to 2-0 and her year-to-date win-loss record to 13-17. She has been a consistent, under-the-radar performer on North-American hardcourts for the past three seasons.
Her consistency has even crept its way to Flushing Meadows, where she reached the quarterfinals and 4th round in 2020 and 2021 respectively.
Verdict: Rogers to win in three- This will also be the first career meeting between these two. I’m really banking on Rogers to go deep this week.
Sakkari has been in pretty humdrum form of late and she may come into this match slightly rusty (she hasn’t played since Wimbledon).
Rogers looks match-ready and could catch Sakkari a bit cold.