Keys conquers Garcia, reaches Australian Open quarters

Madison Keys advanced to the quarterfinals of a second consecutive major tournament, beating eighth-seeded Carolina Garcia 6-3, 6-2 in the Australian Open on Monday in Melbourne.

Keys, an American seeded 17th, reached her first Grand Slam final last fall, when she lost to Sloane Stephens for the U.S. Open title. In her two other forays past the fourth round in major events, she advanced to the semifinals of the 2015 Australian Open and the quarterfinals at Wimbledon in 2015.

“I’m really excited,” Keys said in her post-match interview. “I think I’m playing well, and especially in tight moments, handling my emotions well, so I’m really happy to be in the quarterfinals.”

Garcia, a 24-year-old from France, was looking to equal the best Grand Slam result of her career, a quarterfinal finish in the French Open last year.

Keys, 22, wound up with a sizeable edge in aces (9-1) and winners (32-9) while committing just one more unforced error than Garcia (21-20). The match was over in 1 hour, 10 minutes.

Next up for Keys is a matchup with a player who used to be ranked No. 1 in the world, Angelique Kerber. The 21st-ranked German rallied to beat Taiwan’s Su-Wei Hsieh 4-6, 7-5, 6-2.

Kerber, 30, broke Hsieh’s serve four consecutive times from late in the second set until early in the third to take control.

Hsieh, a 32-year-old veteran who is ranked 88th in the world, was on a Grand Slam fourth round for just the second time. She fell at the same juncture in the 2008 Australian Open.

“Credit to her, she played an unbelievable match,” Kerber said. “It was a very high-quality match from the first ball. I don’t know how I won, I was running everywhere and every time she had an answer. For sure we will see a lot more from her in 2018.”

Kerber was on top of the world in 2016, when she won the Australian Open and the U.S. Open and also reached the Wimbledon final. However, last year she never made it past the fourth round in a major event.

The last two spots in the quarterfinals were decided Monday evening, including top-seeded Simona Halep of Romania easily advancing with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Naomi Osaka of Japan in 1 hour, 19 minutes.

“I played pretty good and I’m happy that I am back in the quarterfinals here,” the WTA No.1 said in her on-court interview. “I did not expect that at the start of the tournament because of my injury.”

Halep will next face sixth-seeded Karolina Pliskova, who advanced with a 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-2 win over No. 20 Barbora Strycova in a matchup of Czech players.

–Field Level Media

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