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By Richard Pagliaro | Saturday, January 22, 2022

 
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Madison Keys dismissed sixth-seeded Paula Badosa 6-3, 6-1, racing into the Australian Open quarterfinals and improving to 10-1 on the season.

Photo credit: Getty

Madison Keys is smiling on court again—and it's a scary proposition for opponents.

A commanding Keys flew through the final five games in a 6-3, 6-1 demolition of Paula Badosa that sends the 51st-ranked American into her third Australian Open quarterfinal.

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Keys played forceful first-strike tennis breaking five times and drilling 26 winners compared to 10 for the Spanish No. 1.

"I think I served pretty well and I think I returned really well," said Keys, who faced only one break point. "So I think I kind of just off the first ball I had a little bit of the advantage on a lot of the points and then was able to dictate.

"I knew I was gonna have to take my chances and go for it because if I gave her an inch she was gonna take it."

A streaking Keys raised her 2022 record to 10-1 and will play Roland Garros champion Barbora Krejcikova for a semifinal spot.

The fourth-seeded Krejcikova stopped two-time champion Victoria Azarenka 6-2, 6-2 to reach her first AO quarterfinal. Krejcikova, who dominated the match as Azarenka took treatment for a nagging neck injury, improved to 18-2 in Grand Slam play since the start of the 2021 Roland Garros.

The 2015 AO semifinalist Keys scored her 20th Top 10 victory. 

Former world No. 7 Keys conceded ranking obsession provoked added pressure on her and drained the pleasure of playing during a dismal spiral to end the 2021 season. Following her run to the Wimbledon round of 16, Keys suffered a five-match losing streak spiraling to a 1-6 record to end a disappointing 2021 with her lowest year-end ranking since 2012.

These days, Keys is relishing the challenge of competing and the joy has brought the juice back to her game.

"My team has been amazing and my coach at the start of the year said he just wanted me to enjoy competing and enjoy being in those tough moments and really embracing them instead of shying away from them and geting panicky in those moments," Keys said. "I’m just really enjoying playing tennis again and enjoying being in front of fans and it’s all good."

Drained by her two hour, 19-minute battle over Marta Kostyuk, Badosa lacked the legs and energy to truly trouble Keys in scorching heat.

"I think today she played very good," Badosa said. "It was a combination of a very good player and I was very tired. Wasn't my day today, but sometimes it goes like this."

Keys got off to a flying start firing a pair of forehand winners and a biting backhand return down the line to break Badosa in her opening service game. The American backed up the beak at 30 for 3-0.



Indian Wells champion Badosa hit a bold second serve ace down the T saving break point as she held for the first time in the fourth game.

Playing with adhesive taping wrapping her right shoulder, Badosa did not unravel in the face of four break points during a tumultuous sixth game. Badosa banged a backhand strike that helped her hold with a “Vamos!” for 2-4.

Twenty-six minutes into the match, Keys slid a short-angled ace out wide stretching her lead to 5-2.

Exuding relaxed power, Keys served out the 32-minute opener with the first love hold of the set. A commanding Keys won 20 of 25 points played on her serve. Keys quadrupled Badosa’s winner output—16 to 4—and was hitting her forehand heavier and deeper.

The new Spanish No. 1 showed her competitive spine saving four break points to start the second set—by then Badosa had fought off 10 of 11 break points. Keys kept coming. Cracking a clean backhand strike down the line for a fifth break point, Keys broke on a Badosa error to start the second set.

Fifty minutes into the match, Badosa earned her first break point when Keys scattered a backhand off the tape. The Spaniard imposed her backhand to convert the break point and level after two games.

Tennis Express

A rocket return clocking in at around 95 mph from Keys rattled Badosa. The Spaniard slapped successive double faults, decelerating on the second that floated into net, as Keys broke again for 2-1.

"Sometimes I was serving 180 kmh. I had to look what the serve said because I didn't understand how a winner came back that fast," Badosa said. "I thought I was serving bad. Then I saw it was her game, that she was playing very, very good.

"Madison, she's like that. When she has confidence, she's very dangerous. She's playing a lot of matches, feeling the ball very well. As I said before playing her, she has a very good serve and very good forehand. I got to see it today."

Deploying a favorite play of her former coach, Lindsay Davenport, Keys crunched a return right back at Badosa’s feet. Unsettling power unnerved Badosa who dumped two double faults—her eighth and ninth of the day—before Keys lasered a diagonal forehand breaking for 4-1.

Keys closed with a loud come on as Badosa’s final forehand fell into net

 

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