ZHUHAI, China - Madison Keys made a winning start to her campaign at the Hengqin Life WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai on Wednesday, defeating top seed Daria Kasatkina in Azalea Group action, 6-2, 6-4.
The victory moves the American atop the standings in the group, and she'll have a chance to secure her spot in the semifinals with a 2-0 record should she defet China's Wang Qiang in her second match on Friday.
The American improved her overall head-to-head against the Russian No.1 to 4-0 with a one hour, nine minute victory, as she hit fives aces and broke serve six times.
"I think I had a really good start today and that definitely helped me. Even a pretty good start in the second set. I think I served well. I think there was a little bit of a lull in the second set, but overall I was happy with that," Keys said after the match.
"I think I returned really well, which is something I've been focusing on. Overall, I think I played really solid and went out and did what I needed to do."
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Keys led 6-2, 4-2 in under an hour before the World No.10 started to pick up some momentum, breaking serve and holding to win back-to-back games for the first time in the match and level at 4-4.
After saving one match point in the 10th game, Kasatkina also had a game point of her own to level the match at 5-5, but ultimately the American proved too tough and secured her third straight sets victory in the pair's four career meetings.
The American has beaten the Chinese No.1 twice this season, but in the first three months of the year at the Australian Open and Qatar Total Open in Doha - well before Wang's tear through the Asian swing, pair of titles on home soil, and Top 30 debut.
"I've actually played her twice already this year, but I expect the match to be completely different this time around. She's had an incredible, like, six weeks, seven weeks. I think she's probably really high in confidence and feeling her game," said Keys.
"I'm probably not even going to watch the matches that I played her and more focus on the last couple of weeks for her and see what she's doing well and hopefully play well enough to get through."