Sofia Kenin vs Madison Keys: WTA Australian Open Round One Odds, Preview & Analysis (Jan. 16)

Sofia Kenin vs Madison Keys: WTA Australian Open Round One Odds, Preview & Analysis (Jan. 16) article feature image

Icon Sportswire/Getty. Pictured: Madison Keys hits a backhand at the Adelaide International.

Madison Keys vs. Sofia Kenin

Keys Odds-186
Kenin Odds+156
Time1 a.m. ET (subject to change)
Odds via FanDuel. For tips on watching tennis matches, click here.

Sofia Kenin, the 2020 Australian Open champion, is playing in her first tournaments since Wimbledon, her 2021 season plagued by a litany of different medical issues.

While it's great to see her back on the court, Kenin's results in Australia so far have been mixed.

Kenin won her first two matches back against Lucia Bronzetti and Ajla Tomljanovic, but couldn’t keep her momentum against top competition, falling to Ashleigh Barty and Daria Kasatkina in her most recent matches.

However, even in the victories over Bronzetti and Tomljanovic, Kenin’s serving was quite poor (at least by her standards).

Against Bronzetti, Kenin didn’t win 60% of either her first or second serve points and was broken four times. Then, against Tomljanovic, the same theme continued, as she only won 55% of her first-serve points and 49% of her second-serve points, getting broken six times. In both matches she at least 65% of her first serves in, but her first serve acted more like a typical second serve.

And while Kenin’s return was responsible, for keeping her in the matches she won, Keys is in a real service rhythm right now and Kenin will not get as many looks on return as she did against, say, Bronzetti.

Speaking of Keys, she has started 2022 playing terrific tennis. After a close defeat to Daria Kasatkina in the second of the Melbourne Summer Set 2 tournament to open her 2022 season, Keys took the crown in Adelaide 2.

Along the way in Adelaide, Keys beat an impressive group of players that included Elina Svitolina, Liudmilla Samsonova, and Coco Gauff. In the final, Keys blew out Alison Riske, winning the match easily, 6-1, 6-2.  While Keys always has been known for her massive power, it was the control that she showed this past week which was most impressive.

Keys served well, winning over 70% of her service points in every Sydney match, besides her matchup against Coco Gauff. Keys was broken three times in five matches, which is very unusual for WTA tennis, which typically feature matches with a lot of service breaks.

In addition, only Liudmilla Samsonova won greater than 50% of her second-serve points this week. Keys did a great job punishing second serves.

Betting Value

While Kenin has name recognition and great memories in Melbourne, I see Keys as the clear play here. She should be able to take full advantage of the weaker Kenin serve and Kenin’s baseline game has not been sharp since 2020.

In addition, Keys’ big serve helps mitigate the Kenin return and is, at least partially, why Keys has won three straight matches against her.

Keys’ overall and hard-court Elo are both above Kenin’s, and she’s in much better form with more matches under her belt.

The spread is at 2.5 games, a number that Keys has covered in six of her seven matches this season (the only exception being the loss to Kasatkina). And quite frankly, Kenin’s level is far from Kasatkina’s and more in-line with the type of players that Keys has been covering against.

I’m very happy to take my chances that Keys covers a spread as low as this one.

Pick: Keys -2.5 (-135 at PointsBet)

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