It represented the beginning of a brief tennis wilderness for both players - #Madison Keys and Japan's Naomi Osaka, who have not been their usual tennis playing selves since that unforgettable, mammoth comeback victory from 5-1 down by Keys in the third set at Last Year's US Open 2016, in the 3rd round.
Keys and Osaka both on the comeback trail at WTA Indian Wells 2017
Madison Keys missed the Australian 2017 through a wrist injury and there has always been a question mark over her and her team's ability to judge the required recovery period from injury. This is evidenced by the number of times she seems to run out of steam in the second week of a Grand Slam. A close, but painstaking defeat to Halep at last year's Wimbledon is a case in point. This was a painful experience for Keys and her fans and, it has not been an isolated incident. Keys has long been seen as a great prospect and many feel that it is a matter of time before that first Grand Slam arrives. However, with the rise of Elina Svitolina and Caroline Wozniacki's consistency - the queue for that prized first Grand Slam is getting longer and more competitive this season.
#Naomi Osaka tamely fell to Johanna Konta in the second round of the Australian Open 2017 and was visibly struggling with the wrist injury that has truncated her season so far. Osaka's ability has far outweighed her on-court results and this recent injury hasn't helped her cause. However, convincing 1st round victories for both Osaka and Keys over Ozaki and Duque-Marino, respectively, suggests that both players might have nailed the recovery period this time around.
Head to head between Keys and Osaka
Other than the above mentioned, barnstorming US Open encounter - there have been no other meetings between these two exciting young players. When they both build fitness and start to salvage what promised to be a great season for both of them, then the number of meetings between them should rise. Also, the interest factor in their matches will keep growing, given both players' exciting attacking tennis styles - it doesn't look like they will play out any boring games.
Keys should have enough to progress in this 3rd round tie
Although Osaka will be hungrily motivated by the hurt and dejection of grasping defeat from the jaws of victory last time these players met, Keys should win this match and continue to build her fitness and confidence. If you only watch one match at the BNP Paribas #Indian Wells WTA Tournament - then this should be it.