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Talented American Keys may have the secret to success

Halep could go close armed with favourable draw

Madison Keys has won both meetings with Coco Vandeweghe this term
1 of 1

BT Sport 1, from 4pm Monday

Defending champion Karolina Pliskova headlines a stellar field in Cincinnati - two-time winner Serena Williams is the only big gun missing - and with so much talent on show punters can expect a fiendishly competitive event.

World number one Pliskova, seven-time Grand Slam winner Venus Williams and Wimbledon heroine Garbine Muguruza are all in the top half of the draw. Throw rising star Jelena Ostapenko and Caroline Wozniacki into the mix and there could be a case for ignoring that section completely.

However, Madison Keys claimed her first title of the season on home soil when taking the Stanford Classic in emphatic fashion last week and there could be plenty more to come from the improving youngster.

The American has always promised much - she reached the Australian Open semi-final as an unseeded teenager two years ago - but injuries have held her back and she is yet to reach her full potential.

However, Keys is growing in confidence under Lindsay Davenport and straight-sets victories over Muguruza and hard-hitting compatriot Coco Vandeweghe on her way to lifting the title in Stanford show she is slowly returning to her best.

The 22-year-old is fancied to overcome Vandeweghe, who has had a hard season, in her curtain-raiser and Muguruza may be the only woman standing in her way before the semi-finals.

The bottom half of the draw looks much less competitive and that could leave the door open for 2015 runner-up Simona Halep.

The Romanian is without doubt one of the best players in the game yet to claim a Grand Slam but she has performed admirably this term and her record in this tournament is decent.

The world number two found the dominant Serena Williams too good two years ago before being beaten in the semi-finals by Angelique Kerber last term. 

A last-four berth in Montreal last week shows she is in good shape and an opening round bye followed by a meeting with a qualifier should brush away any cobwebs.

Johanna Konta and Kerber would be dangers at their best but neither is performing at their optimum and Halep may have the beating of both.

Recommendations
S Halep
1pt each-way 10-1 Betfred
M Keys
1pt each-way 25-1 Betfair, Paddy Power

The Romanian is without doubt one of the best players in the game yet to claim a Grand Slam but she has performed admirably this term
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