In a similar mould to how I am quite high on the upcoming clay season for Maria Sakkari, I am in a very similar boat this year regarding Daria Kasatkina.
Rewind five years and it felt as though it was almost a case of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’ Kasatkina would become a top level threat on the clay. Her struggles handling the rigours of the tour, the pressure associated with things, and even spending significant time periods travelling the tour coachless are quite well documented. I have always felt her level on clay was a step above what she would produce on hardcourt, however it hasn’t entirely eventuated.
If you were following me last year you would have known that I was very keen on Kasatkina in the tournaments leading up to Roland Garros. Unfortunately, things came to a crashing halt in Rome, where she badly rolled her ankle in a first set tiebreak with Victoria Azarenka. That threw a spanner in the works for her Roland Garros preparations, and she struggled to regain momentum for the rest of the year. Fast forward to 2021 and the Russian already has two hardcourt WTA titles to her name, and looks to have regained her confidence.
I like her at the game handicap here against Irina Begu, who I found a little disappointing at times through her qualifying stint. She was a set and a break down to Kalinskaya when I had her part of a double the other day, and was arguably lucky to progress. Her level this year hasn’t quite matches her European clay run in Prague and Rome last year, and I find her a touch vulnerable against counterpunching types. I will be taking Kasatkina at the -3.5 game handicap for 1.5 units.
1.5 units Kasatkina -3.5 games vs Begu at $1.89 at Topsport