MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Madison Keys stormed into the third round of the Australian Open with a 6-2 7-5 win over Jaqueline Cristian on Wednesday as the American continued her resurgence after a year in which she sank into a “dark pit of despair” and her ranking plummeted.
The former U.S. Open finalist warmed up for the opening Grand Slam of the year with her first title since 2019 at the Adelaide WTA tournament last week and knocked out 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin in her opener on Monday.
The former world number seven, who slipped to 87th in the rankings following a disappointing 2021, is aiming to improve on her semi-final finish at Melbourne Park seven years ago.
The American ran away with the opening set in 31 minutes and broke unseeded Romanian Cristian for a 6-5 lead in the next to seal the win that set up a clash with Wang Qiang after the Chinese player beat Alison Van Uytvanck 2-6 7-6(5) 6-3.
Keys, who missed the 2021 Australian Open due to COVID-19, had said after her match with Kenin that she had fond memories of her deep run at the major and hoped to have another.
She added that not taking things too seriously and avoiding putting pressure on herself had helped in her resurgence, while social media had also played a part.
“One of the first things that made me snap out of it was this girl on TikTok. Her name is ‘Tinx’. She’s constantly saying ‘comparison is the thief of joy’,” Keys said on Monday.
“It really made me change my perspective on comparing everything I’ve done and doing to everyone around me. It was just making me miserable.”
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)