Fixture: Daria Kasatkina vs Irina-Camelia Begu
Date: 30 April 2021
Tournament: Mutua Madrid Open 2021
Round: First round (Round of 64)
Venue: Madrid, Spain
Category: WTA 1000
Surface: Red clay
Prize money: €2,549,105
Match timing: 11 am local time, 2.30 pm IST
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel | UK - Amazon Prime Video
Daria Kasatkina vs Irina-Camelia Begu preview
Making her fifth appearance at the Madrid Open, Daria Kasatkina will face a familiar face in her opening round match this week. Kasatkina will play Irina-Camelia Begu for the ninth time in their rivalry, which has been largely in favor of the Russian.
Kasatkina has performed with distinction in the current season, and has seen her ranking rise sharply over the last few months. With two titles in 2021, the 23-year-old has re-entered the world's top 50 for the first time in over a year.
However, her claycourt season started with a shock second-round defeat to Ukrainian teenager Marta Kostyuk in Istanbul last week.
Irina-Camelia Begu, on her part, has acclimatized herself with the Madrid courts by navigating her way through the qualifying draw. The Romanian secured two solid wins - over Anna Kalinskaya and Stefanie Voegele - to book her spot in the main draw.
Daria Kasatkina vs Irina-Camelia Begu head-to-head
Daria Kasatkina and Irina-Camelia Begu have met eight times before this, with Kasatkina leading the head-to-head 7-1.
Remarkably, the Russian has won the last four matches of the lopsided rivalry in straight sets. On clay, she possesses a 3-1 lead over the Romanian.
Begu's sole win came on the claycourts of Rome, but that was a while ago - when Kasatkina was still learning her trade.
Daria Kasatkina vs Irina-Camelia Begu prediction
The jury is still out on whether Daria Kasatkina can keep up her fantastic start to the year. The first quarter of 2021 saw the 23-year-old reach double digits in terms of match wins, and her recent loss in Istanbul could possibly be considered a blip.
Irina-Camelia Begu has played some fine tennis herself this season. She was particularly impressive during the Australian summer series, where she made the quarterfinals at both the Gippsland Trophy and the Phillip Island Trophy.
However, the Kasatkina puzzle has been a difficult one to solve for the Romanian veteran. Kasatkina utilizes heavy topspin on her forehand wing which prevents her opponents from getting into a rhythm, and in the past Begu has struggled massively to deal with that.
While this might be a close contest given that Kasatkina has played very little tennis on the dirt, the Russian should still be able to extend her winning run over the qualifier.
Prediction: Daria Kasatkina to win in three sets.