Madison Keys beat Naomi Osaka 6-1 7-6(7) to advance to the fourth round of the French Open for the second time in her career.
The American, 23, has experienced mixed results so far this season, but clay court runs to the semi-final in Charleston and the last 16 in Rome seem to have provided good preparation for Roland Garros.
In today’s match against Osaka, observers saw the best and worst of Keys. She played brilliant tennis in the first set to win it 6-1 in just 29 minutes.
She hit ten eye-catching winners, broke the Japanese twice and won 17 of 22 points on her serve to achieve that emphatic scoreline.
Keys stutters then recovers
It looked like it might be a similar story in the second set when Keys secured an early break in game three. She then saved three break points with superb serving to go 3-1 up.
However, The American went completely off the boil in the next three games. She made a raft of unforced errors and lost ten points in a row. Suddenly she was behind in the set.
Keys steadied herself to hold in game eight, and then hit a couple of excellent winners to break for a 5-4 lead. But she wasted her first match point in the next game and eventually dropped her serve.
By this stage, a tie-break seemed inevitable, and that is exactly what happened. The World No.13 rapidly slipped to 1-4 down because she skewed a sloppy forehand wide when she was serving.
Keys recovered well to lead 5-4 and had two points on her own serve to try and finish the match. She lost them both, then saved two set points and eventually had to rely on a double fault from Osaka on her second match point to clinch victory.
Kasatkina and Putintseva progress
The American, who could face Elina Svitolina next, will be joined in round four by Daria Kasatkina, after the Russian withstood the challenge of Maria Sakkari to win 6-1 1-6 6-3.
Kasatkina produced good all-round tennis to take the first set in just 26 minutes. She played poorly in the second set as she hit just two winners and made 13 unforced errors. But the World No.14 then raised her level again to come out on top in the decider.
In the other early match, Yulia Putintseva progressed to the fourth round of the French Open for the second time.
The Kazakhstani player was in big trouble at 1-6 0-4 down against Wang Qiang but she fought back superbly to win 1-6 7-5 6-4.
[Originally published at ubitennis.com]