Madison Keys into Australian Open semifinal

Getty Images
2 Comments

MELBOURNE, Australia — Madison Keys continued her resurgent 2022 season by advancing to the Australian Open semifinals for the first time in seven years.

And resurgent might be a major understatement.

Her 6-3, 6-2 quarterfinal win over French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova was her 10th match win in a row and 11th of the new year. She served 11 aces, 27 winners and dropped just one just service game.

Her run in ’22 includes five wins so far at Melbourne Park, starting with a straight-sets victory over 2020 Australian Open winner Sofia Kenin, plus five in winning the Adelaide International – her first title since 2019 – and one at an earlier Melbourne tournament.

Her total number of wins in all of 2021? That same number, 11.

“I did everything I could to rest this off-season and focus on starting fresh and new . . . starting from zero and not focusing on last year,” Keys said in her on-court interview. “I think it’s going well so far!”

Last week, Keys gave more details on how terrible 2021 was for her.

“I was just at a very high anxiety level all of the time,” Keys said. “I wasn’t sleeping as well. It felt like there was literally a weight on my chest just because I became so focused and obsessed with it that I wasn’t enjoying really anything because it’s all that I was thinking about.”

Her year-end ranking slumped to 56th, and it was the first time since 2014 she’d finished outside the Top 20.

In 2015, Keys lost an Australian Open semifinal to Serena Williams, her first trip to the final four at a major. She reached the final at the 2017 U.S. Open and semis at Roland Garros and the U.S. Open in 2018, but hadn’t made it back to the last four in a Grand Slam since then.

The feeling in Melbourne will be vastly different. She could be facing either top-ranked Ash Barty, an Australian, or fellow American Jessica Pegula.

“I’m seven years older and it’s not my first semifinal of a Slam,” she said. “I think I’m a little bit more prepared this time around than I was all those years ago.”

Krejcikova took a medical timeout while trailing 5-2 in the first set from what might have been heat stress, and appeared to be lethargic at times during the 35-minute second set.

Temperatures was peaking toward 32 degrees Celsius (90 Fahrenheit) under almost cloudless skies.

“It was the heat with some physical conditions that started to bother me after five games,” Krejcikova, who is still playing in the doubles draw, said. “I mean, from there on, you know, I just couldn’t put it together.

“I have been struggling with something. Yes, it was happening and I didn’t feel good. I just don’t want to talk about it because I think Madison, she really deserves the win and she really deserves to get the credit. “

Alycia Parks reaches 1st WTA quarterfinal in Ostrava

alycia parks
Robert Prange/Getty Images
2 Comments

OSTRAVA, Czech Republic — American qualifier Alycia Parks is having quite the breakthrough tournament in Ostrava.

The 21-year-old Parks earned her first win against a top-10 ranked opponent by beating fourth-seeded Maria Sakkari 5-7, 7-5, 7-5 at the Agel Open on Thursday to reach her first WTA Tour quarterfinal.

The 144th-ranked Parks ousted former No. 1 Karolina Pliskova in the opening round – her first win against a top-20 opponent – and showed off her power by hitting 59 winners against Sakkari, compared to just nine for her opponent.

“I came out here not expecting anything, just playing my game, and it got me through the match,” Parks said.

Parks will next face former French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova, who advanced via walkover when Belinda Bencic withdrew with a left foot injury.

Caty McNally, another American qualifier who is playing doubles with Parks in Ostrava, also reached the last eight by beating wild-card entry Karolina Muchova 6-1, 3-6, 6-1. McNally is also into her first WTA quarterfinal and will face top-ranked Iga Swiatek, who advanced Wednesday.

Djokovic beats Van de Zandschulp to reach Astana quarters

novak djokovic
Nir Keidar/Getty Images
1 Comment

ASTANA, Kazakhstan — Add Botic van de Zandschulp to the long list of players to have been schooled by Novak Djokovic.

Djokovic eased past Van de Zandschulp 6-3, 6-1 on Thursday in his first career meeting with the 27-year-old Dutchman to reach the quarterfinals of the Astana Open.

Van de Zandschulp earned one break point in each set but couldn’t seriously threaten Djokovic, who is looking for a second straight indoor hardcourt title after winning in Tel Aviv last week.

“(In the) second set I think I started to read his serve better and just started swinging through the court more,” Djokovic said. “Botic is a quality tennis player. When he has time, he can hurt you, so I tried to take away that time from him and I’m very pleased with the way I played, particularly in the second.”

Djokovic will next face Karen Khachanov, who rallied to beat Marin Cilic 2-6, 6-3, 6-3. If the 21-time Grand Slam champion gets past that one, he could come up against fellow former No. 1 Daniil Medvedev. The second-seeded Russian beat Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland 6-3, 6-2 to move one match away from a potential rematch of last year’s U.S. Open final, when Medvedev beat Djokovic to deny his attempt at a calendar-year Grand Slam.

Medvedev will first have to beat Roberto Bautista Agut, who advanced Wednesday.