MELBOURNE (Reuters) -Madison Keys continued her resurgence by reaching the quarter-finals of the Australian Open on Sunday with a 6-3 6-1 win over eighth seed Paulo Badosa at Rod Laver Arena.
Former U.S. Open finalist Keys, who has slipped to 51st in the world rankings, booked her place in the last eight of a Grand Slam for the first time since the 2019 French Open with a comprehensive win over the Spaniard.
“I’m so happy to be back, I was so sad to miss last year and this amazing crowd and this amazing court,” said Keys, who was absent from the 2021 tournament due to COVID-19.
Keys, who rose to seventh in the world in 2016, has reached the quarter-finals twice before in Melbourne, defeating Venus Williams to advance to the semis in 2015 but losing to Angelique Kerber at this stage three years later.
The American took control early on Sunday, breaking her opponent in her first service game and closing out the set in 32 minutes having put Badosa’s serve under constant pressure.
The players traded breaks in the opening two games of the second set before Keys broke Badosa twice more as the Spaniard started to struggle in the heat.
Badosa’s difficulties continued as Keys broke her for a third time in the set to advance to the next round, where she will face Barbora Krejcikova following the Czech’s win over Victoria Azarenka.
“I think she’s kind of just making tennis look easy,” Keys said of Krejcikova “It seems like no matter what people are doing, she very quickly figures it out and has another game plan to quickly implement.
“She moves forward so naturally that I feel like if you give her the opportunity, she’s just on top of you all of a sudden, then she’s at the net. Obviously it’s not easy to pass her.”
Badosa said she was overwhelmed by Keys’ serve and the power and accuracy of her returns.
“Sometimes I was serving 180. I had to look what the serve said because I didn’t understand how a winner came back that fast,” she said.
“I thought I was serving bad. Then I saw it was her game, that she was playing very, very good.
“Madison, she’s like that. When she has confidence, she’s very dangerous.”
(Reporting by Michael Church in Hong Kong, Editing by Peter Rutherford)