Australian Open: Women’s wrap, Day 8 – Jan 22

US Open finalist Madison Keys steamrollered her way into the Australian Open quarterfinals on Monday, flattening French eighth seed Caroline Garcia 6-3, 6-2 in 68 minutes in their fourth-round clash.

The American, who made the semis at Melbourne Park in 2015, has not dropped a set so far this year.

“I’m really excited because I think I’m really playing well,” said Keys of her run to the last eight.

“I’m happy with the way I’m handling the tight moments.”

The 22-year-old will face 2016 champion Angelique Kerber or Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei next.

Keys said she would let her coach, the 2000 Australian Open champion Lindsay Davenport, do the scouting on her next opponent.

“I just do what she tells me,” she said, laughing.

A couple of breaks were exchanged early in a nervy start but back on serve at 3-2 Keys, who has skated almost unnoticed through the draw, struck a decisive blow.

Under pressure at 0-30, Garcia coughed up a second double fault.

Two points later a strong forehand return opened up the court for the American, who made no mistake ripping her next groundstroke for a winner to go 4-2 up.

Behind her powerful serve – Keys has only been broken four times in her four matches to date – she closed out comfortably, sealing the set with her sixth ace after 36 minutes.

She broke the Frenchwoman twice again at the start of the second to charge into a 3-0 lead.

The 22-year-old dropped her serve at 4-1 to give Garcia a sniff, before reasserting her authority by immediately breaking back to love for 5-2.

The world number 20 then sealed a dominant win in which she struck 32 winners and nine aces to Garcia’s nine winners and a single ace.

KERBER BATTLES INTO QUARTERS

Angelique Kerber kept her hopes of a second Australian Open title alive with a battling come-from-behind 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 victory against Taiwan’s tenacious Hsieh Su-wei in the fourth round on Monday.

The German was run ragged in the first two sets by unseeded Hsieh, a former doubles world No 1, as she negated the pace of her power game with a delightful mixture of drop shots, lobs and finessed groundstrokes.

“First of all, credit to her,” said Kerber, the 21st seed who won the Melbourne title in 2016.

“She played an unbelievable match. She was hitting the balls very well.”

In the early stages Kerber was unable to handle the variety of world number 88 Hsieh, who was bidding to reach her first Grand Slam singles quarterfinal.

The Taiwanese was looking for a third big-name scalp in a row, knocking out Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza in round two and then former world No 2 Agnieszka Radwanska.

“I was feeling like I was running everywhere. Inside the court and outside I was everywhere,” Kerber said.

“She was playing a lot of corners and drop shots. I was just trying to run behind the ball and bounce them back.”

Kerber dropped the first set and was clinging on towards the end of the second, serving to save the match at 4-5.

After levelling at 5-5 the former world No 1 blasted out a scream as she finally got the decisive break to go 6-5 up before holding to love to take it to a decider.

It knocked the wind out of Hsieh’s sails and she immediately surrendered a break at the start of the third. When a second soon followed the end came after two hours and eight minutes of sheer entertainment.

“Very well done how she played,” said Kerber. “And also in her the last three (matches). We will see a lot in 2018 from her.”

Kerber will play Madison Keys for a place in the semifinals after the American 17th seed steamrollered French eighth seed Caroline Garcia 6-3, 6-2.

HALEP ENDS OSAKA’S RUN

World No 1 Simona Halep eased into the quarterfinals of the Australian Open Monday with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over unseeded Naomi Osaka of Japan in 81 minutes.

“I’m really happy that I’m back in the quarterfinals,” said the Romanian, who last made it this far in 2015 and has been nursing a troublesome ankle that she rolled in her first-round match.

“The injury is still there. I feel it but I’m trying not to think about it and give it everything.”

Halep was delighted to be on court for 143 minutes less than her previous match against Lauren Davis, which at 3hr 44min was the longest of the tournament.

“Actually, this tournament looks like a marathon for me,” she said, after spending almost nine hours on court so far, more than any other player.

“I’m really proud I could stay focused and make every point very focused and concentrated.”

The big-hitting Osaka had her chances, notably in the fifth game of the first set when she squandered five points to break the Halep serve. The Romanian compounded Osaka’s disappointment immediately with a break of her own.

She served out to take the set in 42 minutes and immediately broke the Japanese player again to start the second.

The players matched each other with 22 winners apiece but Osaka’s 31 unforced errors ultimately proved her downfall against the consistent Halep.

The top seed is guaranteed to meet a Czech opponent for a place in the semifinals, either sixth seed Karolina Pliskova or Barbora Strycova, the 20th seed, who play later.

PLISKOVA RALLIES TO REACH QUARTERS

Sixth seed Karolina Pliskova reached her second Australian Open quarterfinal by outlasting Barbora Strycova 6-7(5) 6-3 6-2 in an all-Czech battle that stretched into the early hours of Tuesday.

Taking to the court just before 11 p.m. local time, the pair slugged it out for two hours and 41 minutes in the late match at Rod Laver Arena before former US Open finalist Pliskova finally put down her compatriot.

Strycova saved one match point with an audacious serve-volley and a second with an overhead smash before the 20th seed surrendered by clubbing a backhand over the baseline.

Pliskova will meet top seed Simona Halep for a place in the semifinals.

“I think the first set was very close but I needed to step up and be more aggressive,” the tall 25-year-old said in the on-court interview.

“I was playing fine the other two sets. On this surface I have a chance

© AFP

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