Perfect 10 – Keys rides the hot hand past Krejcikova and into Australian Open semi-finals
Madison Keys broke open a tight first set and raced past Barbora Krejcikova to claim a spot in her fifth career Grand-Slam semi-final.
It’s still January and Madison Keys has already matched her win total from 2021, the American waltzing past Barbora Krejcikova 6-3, 6-2 on a scorching hot day at Melbourne Park to book her tenth consecutive victory (11th of 2022) and her second Australian Open semi-final appearance.
After the contest unseeded Keys, currently ranked 51, vacillated between emotional and overjoyed.
“I think I’m gonna cry,” she told Jelena Dokic on court after the match, a giant smile emerging. “It means a lot, last year was really hard. I did everything I could with my team to just really reset in the off-season and to focus on starting fresh and new. Really just starting from zero and not worrying about last year – wow, that’s gone well so far.”
It certainly has.
The hard-hitting American continues her assault on the top half of the women’s singles draw that started with an upset of No 11-seed and 2020 champion Sofia Kenin in the first round and ran through world No 6 Paula Badosa in the round of 16.
Today’s victim, fourth-seeded Barbora Krejcikova, struggled to cope with heat and lost her grip on the match after five games, when Keys converted her fourth break point of the sixth game to create a lead that she would never relinquish. The Czech tried to put up a valiant effort but was only able to manage two of the final 12 games as the American sprinted to the finish.
Suffering Krejcikova needed the trainer after the seventh game
At the ensuing changeover the Czech saw the trainer and had her blood pressure taken as medical staff examined her. She was cleared to continue, and did so, but never really seemed to find her energy on the court. Krejcikova sought relief in the shade at the back of the court between points as much as she could, but nothing seemed to help her get her batteries recharged against the relentless American.
“Today it was the heat with some physical conditions that started to bother me during after five games,” Krejcikova later said. “I mean, from there on, you know, I just couldn’t put it together. Just still I didn’t want to end it up. I wanted to finish match. I wanted to try to do my best. Yeah, I wasn’t really able to do that. Still I think it’s a really good experience and I can learn a lot from it.”
Keys cracked 27 winners against just 21 unforced errors, and Krejcikova littered up the stat sheet, producing 12 winners and 28 unforced errors.
Keys unbothered by the heat
As Krecjikova wilted in midday heat, Keys looked fresh as a daisy over the course of the 85-minute contest. She said she owes her unflappability to the fact that she practices in Orlando, Florida in the summer, a notoriously sweltering climate.
“I train in Orlando in the summer, which I think is the hottest place on earth in the summer,” Keys told the crowd, adding: “You guys should come and try it out and let me know if you agree with me.”
“I think I’m pretty used to it just because I train in that all of the time which I think is definitely a bonus for me even though in the summer I really wish I didn’t live there.”
Next up: Barty or Pegula – Keys previews their quarter-final
Keys, who has reached her first Grand Slam semi-final since the 2018 US Open, will face either top-seeded Ash Barty or No 21 seed Jessica Pegula for a spot in the final.
“That’s going to be a really tough match,” Keys said. “Obviously Ash is a Grand Slam champion and I think she does such a great job of looking for her forehand, defending with the slice and making people uncomfortable with that – and her serve is obviously one of the best in the world. Then you have Jessica on the other side who does not give up the baseline and can hit a winner from any position you put her in. I think it’s going to be a really interesting matchup.”