By Chris Oddo | Monday March 13, 2017
22-year-old World No.9 Madison Keys was one of the great unknowns ahead of this year’s BNP Paribas Open. She had not played all season and was coming off off-season wrist surgery, so she was sure to be rusty.
No.6-seeded Radwanska wasn’t the highest seed to fall on Monday. Fourth-seeded Simona Halep was knocked off by No.28-seeded Kristina Mladenovic, 6-3, 6-3. Lauren Davis and No.14-seeded Elena Vesnina were also winners on Monday at Indian Wells.
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She also came in with a new coach, Lindsay Davenport, who she had previously worked with in 2015. There was every reason to believe that the promising American would need time to find her game.
But Keys has shaken the rust off quickly and looked as menacing as ever as she cruised past Japan’s Naomi Osaki and into the round of 16 at the BNP Paribas Open for the first time on Monday.
The victory was highly anticipated, because Keys and Osaka played one of the most dramatic matches of last year’s U.S. Open. Osaka blew a 5-1 lead in the third set in that match, but she was never really close to challenging Keys in Monday’s encounter.
“It's always tough to come back and everyone is in the middle of their season,” Keys said after firing eight aces and saving all four break points she faced against Osaka. “I definitely had really low expectations, which is probably why, when I was up there and serving for the match in the first round [against Mariana Duque-Marino], I was, like, ‘Oh, this is exciting.’ I didn't think this was going to happen.”
Keys will next face Caroline Wozniacki. The No.13-seeded Dane is a former champ and three-time finalist at Indian Wells. She ripped past Katerina Siniakova in straight sets on Monday evening, breaking serve in six of seven return games.
Wozniacki took out Keys at last year’s U.S. Open in the round of 16, and she’s been steady all year, going 17-5 with runner-up performances in Doha and Dubai.
Keys says she remembers Wozniacki attacking her backhand all day in that match, but also adds that she’s excited to get another chance to play at an event that she had no expectations at to begin with.
“I think she played so well that day,” Keys said. “But different courts, different time, all of that. She's always tough and she's been playing really well this year being in two finals already. So it's going to be a tough match. Again, I'm just, like, hey, I get to have another one. I get to go out and have another scouting report and all of that.
“So I'm excited about it.”
Venus Williams Advances, Radwanska Upset
Venus Williams continued her fine play by zapping Lucie Safarova, 6-4, 6-2. The victory sets up a round of 16 encounter with China’s Peng Shuai. Peng qualified for the main draw and notched her first Top 10 win since 2014 by defeating Agnieszka Radwanska, 6-4, 6-4.