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Madison Keys easily dispatched Kimberly Birrell early on Sunday morning to the level the Fed Cup match between Australia and the USA at 1-all.
Kimberly Birrell 2 2
Madison Keys 6 6
After an encouraging Australian Open, Australian women’s tennis gets its chance to announce its arrival on the world stage this morning when Australia takes on the United States in the Federation Cup at the US Cellular Arena in North Carolina.
In Australia’s first World Group tie match since 2015, Australia’s Kimberly Birrell will take on Madison Keys in the second match. Join The Roar for live scores and coverage from around 6:30am (AEDT).
At just 20 years of age, you’d be forgiven for thinking Kim Birrell was an overnight success. Like so many young players on the tour however, that couldn’t be further from the truth with Birrell playing on the ITF tour over the last few years.
Her break came in Brisbane where she defeated her first top ten player, Daria Kasatkina, in a third set tie-break. She then progressed to the third round in Melbourne, before Angelique Kerber stopped her run.
The largest positive for Birrell is that her ranking now will get her direct entry into a number of bigger tournaments in 2019.
In Madison Keys, she has a very tough opponent this morning. The 23-year-old, 17th ranked Keys has been on the tour for a number of years and few would argue that she will eventually win a grand slam title or two.
Her best result was a 2017 US Open final loss to Sloane Stephens, whilst she made the quarters or better of every grand slam title, except Wimbledon, in 2018.
She made the 4th round of this year’s Australian Open, losing to Elina Svitolina in three sets.
This will be the 15th Federation Cup clash between Australia and the USA, with the USA leading 9-5 and winning the last battle 4-0 in Brisbane 3 years ago. Playing in front of a big home crowd, the USA will go in as favourites.
Australian captain, Alicia Molik, must have plenty of belief in Kim Birrell, giving her a singles spot in front of Daria Gavrilova.
However, I believe Madison Keys power game will prove too strong, with a straight sets win predicted.