KEYS' POWER, POISE
SEND HER TO FRENCH OPEN LAST 16
Ashley Marshall | June 1, 2018
American No. 13 seed Madison Keys turned in a polished performance to become the first woman in the Round of 16 at the French Open on Friday, with a straight-sets win over world No. 20 Naomi Osaka.
Keys defeated the Japanese, 6-1, 7-6, on Suzanne-Lenglen Court to reach the fourth round of Roland Garros for the second time in her career.
The Rock Island, Ill., native has historically had her worst Grand Slam performances on the red dirt of Paris, but she’s now one second-week win away from having reached the quarterfinals at all four Slams.
Keys reached the US Open final last September and the final eight of Wimbledon in 2015, a year that also saw her reach her first major semifinal at the Australian Open.
Keys, who now lives in Florida and trains at the USTA National Campus, will next play No.
31 seed Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania, after she upset fourth-seeded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine in straight sets.
Keys and left-hander Buzarnescu have never played before, but the American should be quietly optimistic of her chances for a deep run. Either No. 26 Barbora Strycova or Yulia Putintseva would await Keys in the quarterfinals should she beat Buzarnescu, and only then would Keys have to play someone ranked higher than herself, with world No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki, No. 8 Petra Kvitova and No. 10 Sloane Stephens all alive in the bottom quarter of the draw.
On Friday, Keys raced through the first set in only 29 minutes, breaking Osaka twice before serving the set out to love with an ace down the middle.
The American then edged out to a 3-1 lead in the second set, before Osaka converted her fourth break point of the match to draw level. The pair traded breaks in the ninth and 10th games, Osaka saving a match point at 5-4, before the set entered a tiebreak.
Osaka seemed to have things under control, leading 4-1, 6-5 and 7-6, but Keys saved both set points and won four of the final five points to book her place in the fourth round.
Keys made a number of big plays from the backhand wing, including one down the line to give her a chance for a double break in the first set and a clean winner down the opposite line on Osaka’s forehand side when she trailed 2-0 in the second-set tiebreak. But it was her overall poise, especially late in the match, that attracted the most plaudits, as she remained cool under pressure and avoided the need to go to a third set.
Stephens will look to join Keys in the fourth round later Friday, when she faces Camila Giorgi of Italy.
Three other Americans – Serena Williams, John Isner and Steve Johnson – are in third-round action on Saturday in the French capital.