Can Madison finds the Keys to success to avoid a ninth loss against Angelique Kerber?
<div><h2><strong>Madison Keys(5) vs. Angelique Kerber(4)</strong></h2><p><strong>Friday, September 20, Osaka</strong><br /><br />Madison Keys has certainly found a rich vein of form as of late, playing with renewed focus and controlled aggression during her current winning stretch. Emerging victorious in 11 out of her last 12 matches, the often inconsistent American found her range during the North American hard court swing - storming to the Cincinnati title. However, as the 24-year old failed to defend her semifinal points at the US Open, she still slid down the rankings to rank 16th entering the tournament. Here in Osaka, Keys played well enough to take down Daria Kasatkina for a sixth straight time by a scoreline of 6-3, 6-4. The going got much tougher in the second round though, where an errant American found herself a set down against Zarina Diyas. Eventually finding her range, Keys had too much firepower for the Kazakh in the end and wrapped the last two sets up 6-0, 6-4.<br /><br />Meanwhile, the 24-year old´s opponent Angelique Kerber finally broke her five-match losing streak. After a dominant 6-1 first set, the German was able to recover from a 4-1 double break deficit to close out Nicole Gibbs 6-4 in the second. “It’s nice to have a win again,” Kerber said after the victory. “It was a tough match. We both played really well. But it’s a good feeling to win a match”.</p><p>“The goal now is to finish the year as well as I can, to put all the energy which I have into this run in Asia and to play well in the next few weeks.”<br /><br />It was a much needed win for the elite counterpuncher, and the 31-year old should be playing with much more freedom now. With no points to defend this week, it´s the perfect opportunity to pick up some much needed points - and some confidence at that as we near the end of the season.<br /><br />While Kerber hasn´t been in great form, she did get over the line in that last affair, which may prove crucial here. Facing up against the powerful Madison Keys is no simple task, but the counterpuncher has almost always had the answer. Indeed, she leads the H2H meetings in commanding style with 8 victories in 10 affairs. What we´ve seen happen is that the American has often been unable to hit her spots with the power and accuracy required to hit the German off the court. Kerber will always force you to hit many more balls than you would want to coax unforced errors, and is the significantly better mover between the pair. If Keys doesn´t redline her game and paint the lines green with her serves and groundstrokes, this pattern is likely to repeat itself yet again. With Kerber being made the underdog here at 2.20 with Bet365, we pounce on the German.<br /><br /><a href="https://a.oddsmarket.com/record/v?c=150&a=bf7f64f4-cd67-4904-9b00-6ded1d41fd18&f=1" rel="nofollow" target="_blank" title="Tennis Betting Odds"><em><strong>Best bet: Kerber to win at 2.20 (6/5) with [Bet365] 1.5u</strong></em></a></p><h2><em><strong><a href="http://a.oddsmarket.com/record/v?c=164&a=f339dce1-88de-4994-ab6a-c24e019bdf3b&f=3" target="_blank"><img alt src="https://cmscdn.staticcache.org/assets/image/0003/1348572/WHC_27064_Updated-In-Play-Tennis-Insurance_1280x480NEW.jpg" style="width:100%" /></a></strong></em><br /><br /><br /><strong>Mikhail Kukushkin(6) vs. Joao Sousa</strong></h2><p><strong>Friday, September 20, St. Petersburg</strong><br /><br />Mikhail Kukushkin continues to impress when the calendar shows it´s time for indoors tennis. The Kazakh veteran was able to keep his cool in the crucial moments against the fesity young Jannik Sinner, prevailing in straight sets. Facing up against 2017 Champion Damir Dzumhur, who lead the indoor H2H meeting 2-0, the 31-year old again prevailed in straight sets. It´s been clean performances from the 2010 Champion thus far, averaging 68% first serve %, 65.5% first serve points won and 60% second serve points won. Kukushkin has looked in good form thus far, and is certainly motivated to perform well here:<br /><br />"[...]I took a 2-week long break after the US Open and now it is my first indoor tournament. I like this part of the season and always show my best results at indoor tournaments, that is why I am very motivated! I strive to win every match I play[...]"<br /><br />Joao Sousa is a tricky customer to most players on tour, and the Portuguese star proved as much in his round 2 matchup. There he dismissed number 2 seed and the homecoming Russian, Karen Khachanov, in straight sets - a feat he was obviously very happy with:<br /><br />“The crowd was very fair today. They were pushing Karen and they pushed me as well. I played a great match and I think they enjoyed this match. Unfortunately Karen couldn’t win and he is a Russian playing at home, but in the end I was able to win and I’m very happy”.<br /><br />Formerly known as a clay-court specialist, Sousa has developed his game along the years, and can now be a threat on all surfaces. He certainly showed just that at Wimbledon earlier this year, making the last 16 after scoring upset wins over Marin Cilic and Daniel Evans. Unyielding from the baseline and committing very few unforced errors, the 30-year old grinder enjoys these slower, high bouncing indoors conditions we see here. Making the quarterfinal or better on three previous occasions, Sousa will try to match his career best of a 2015 final appearance at this tournament.<br /><br />This is set up to be a closely contested affair, with the grindy Sousa up against the flat hitting Kukushkin. We´re likely to see longer baseline rallies, and many opponents tend to be especially uncomfortable dealing with the unorthodox Kukushkin backhand. The Portuguese star will certainly have his hands full dealing with the Kazakh veteran on his favored surface. Looking at the stats, it´s Kukushkin who holds a 3.7% hold/break edge and a 70 point hard court ELO advantage in this matchup. The pair have met on four previous occasion and the H2H standings are 2-2, with the lone recent meeting ending in the Kazakh´s victory. In a Davis Cup match earlier this year, the 31-year old prevailed on the indoors hard courts of his home country, 6-4, 6-1. While both men have impressed thus far in the tournament, Sousa looks set to struggle to overcome his older opponent in this contest. Kukushkin is the rightful favourite to emerge victorious, and at an underdog price with Pinnacle, we will invest in him once more.<br /><br /><a href="http://a.oddsmarket.com/record/v?c=155&a=6a145d2b-505f-491b-a70e-2f5f31742828&f=1" rel="nofollow" target="_blank" title="Tennis Betting Odds"><em><strong>Best bet: Kukushkin to win at 2.00 (1/1) with [Pinnacle] 1.5u</strong></em></a></p></div>