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Keys to victory – American cruises past Badosa in jaw-dropping fashion

American Madison Keys produced inspiring tennis from start to finish as she raced past Paula Badosa to reach the Australian Open quarter-finals for the third time.

Madison Keys 2022 Australian Open Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia – January 23, 2022 Madison Keys of the U.S. reacts during her fourth round match against Spain’s Paula Badosa || 218680_0482

Australian Open 2022 | Draw Order of play | Round of 16

Unseeded American Madison Keys may have a ranking of 51 associated with her name at the 2022 Australian Open but the former world No 7 is most certainly playing top-10 tennis at the moment. One glance at the lopsided 6-3 6-1 scoreline of her round of 16 tilt with Paula Badosa will tell you all you need to know, but if one needs more evidence a quick gander at the statistics will enlighten further.

Keys cracked 27 winners over the course of her 69-minute takedown of the No 8 seed (Badosa could manage only 10, against 20 unforced errors) and drilled seven return winners, most of them in the first set as she sent a message to her opponent that she’d be spending much of the afternoon on her back foot.

It was an eye-opening performance from the 2017 US Open runner-up, and one that inspires the belief that the American could be ready to realise her immense potential as the 2022 Australian Open winds down.

10 wins in 2022 – and counting

It’s no secret that Keys lost her way a bit in 2021, as she began her season by missing the Australian Open due to a last-second positive Covid-19 diagnosis, and really never played enough matches to find her rhythm. She finished the campaign with a dismal win total of 11.

But Keys is in a much different place in 2022 and she has already racked up ten wins in three events, including her four impressive wins at Melbourne, which include a first-round triumph over No 11-seeded Sofia Kenin and today’s win over the world No 6.

“It was absolutely amazing,” Keys said on court after her win. “I’m so happy to be back, I was so sad to miss last year. I missed this amazing crowd and this amazing court – I’m so happy to be back and so glad I have another match to play here.”

Keys – relentlessly aggressive from first ball

Keys was able to dominate the match by striking early against Badosa and pushing the Spaniard well behind the baseline. She did so by executing well from the service stripe – making 67 percent of first serves and winning 76 percent of those points – and teeing off on second-serve returns. Keys won a whopping 19 of 28 second-serve return points which meant that Badosa was constantly behind in her service games.

The Spaniard faced 16 break points, and saved 11, on the day.

“I think I served pretty well and I think I returned pretty well,” said Keys. “So I think I just kind of, off of the first ball, had a little bit of the advantage on a lot of the points and then was able to dictate. I knew that I was going to have to be able to take my chances and go for it, because if I gave her an inch she was going to take it.”

Madison Keys after winning 2022 Adelaide
Madison Keys after winning 2022 Adelaide 2 earlier this month

Happy at the Happy Slam

Keys has made no secret of her conscious effort to focus on having more fun on court and not worry about rankings or results. That philosophical change has allowed her to loosen up and let loose her powerful game on the court.

“I think it’s 100 percent the case,” she said. “My team has been amazing and my coach at the start of the year said that he just wanted me to enjoy competing and being in those tough moments and really just embracing those instead of shying away from them and getting panicky in those moments.

“I’m just really enjoying playing tennis again, and enjoying being on the court and in front of fans – it’s all good.”

Krejcikova or Azarenka in the quarter-finals

Keys will bid to reach her fifth career Grand Slam semi-final against either Barbora Krejcikova or Victoria Azarenka in the quarter-finals. The American has not played a Grand Slam semi-final since the 2018 US Open, and she has not contested the final four in Melbourne since 2015, when she fell to Serena Williams in straight sets.

With good vibes surrounding her and a baseline game that is operating at full-tilt, the American is living proof that ranking means very little when the talent is in bloom.

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