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By Richard Pagliaro | Friday, August 16, 2019

 
Madison Keys

Madison Keys did not drop serve sweeping her tennis hero Venus Williams, 6-2, 6-3, to power into her first Cincinnati semifinal vs. Sofia Kenin.

Photo credit: @CincyTennis

The love of the long ball inspired Madison Keys' explosive style from an early age.

"When I started playing I want to hit the ball as far as I could," Keys recalls. "Like a home run in baseball."

Watch: Osaka's US Open in Jeopardy After Injury

The heavy-hitting Keys played hard ball brilliantly tonight sweeping her tennis hero Venus Williams, 6-2, 6-3, to power into her first Cincinnati semifinal. 

It's Keys' first semifinal since she captured her fourth career title in Charleston last April.

Keys cranked 32 winners and did not drop serve in a 77-minute win over the 39-year-old Williams, who inspired the young Keys to pick up a racquet.



It is Keys' first win over Williams since the 2016 Montreal event as she took a 3-2 lead in their head-to-head series.

The Charleston champion set up an all-American semifinal vs. Sofia Kenin

Kenin scored her second win over a World No.1 in as many weeks as top-ranked Naomi Osaka was forced to retire due to a left leg injury in the third set of their Western & Southern Open quarterfinal.

The two-time Grand Slam champion had her left leg taped and tried to continue but could not push off her leg and retired with Kenin holding a 6-4, 1-6, 2-0 lead.

The 20-year-old Kenin, who knocked off world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty in Toronto last week, may well have aided the Aussie in regaining the top spot in the rankings. If Barty beats Svetlana Kuznetsova in tomorrow's semifinal she will return to the top of the rankings.

It's been an impressive run for Keys, who has beaten three Grand Slam champions—Garbine Muguruza, Simona Halep and Venus Williams—en route to the final four.

In their lone prior meeting, Kenin fought off Keys, 6-7(2), 6-3, 6-4, on the red clay of Rome in May.

That victory foreshadowed Kenin's Roland Garros run where she upset Serena Williams and took a set from eventual-champion Barty before bowing.

"I played Maddie at Rome," Kenin said. "It was obviously pretty dramatic. Atmosphere was unreal there. It was so good. It's going to be a tough one. She's playing well, and I have a lot of respect for her."

 

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