Seeking another Grand Slam final, Madison Keys rallies past Krunic

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WATCH—Previewing Saturday's women's matches at the US Open: 

NEW YORK—For a little while on Saturday, it looked like three of the four semifinalists from last year's US Open would all be out before the fourth round of this year's tournament.

On Arthur Ashe Stadium, last year's runner-up Madison Keys was down a set to dangerous floater Aleksandra Krunic, but overcame the challenge to win, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2. 

"I think in the first set she was holding her ground really well and kind of dictating the points," Keys said. "When I'm playing tennis, I want to be the one that's dictating points and the one that's not running as much."

With CoCo Vandeweghe and Venus Williams both already out, it’s only Keys and defending champion Sloane Stephens left in the draw from last year's final four. Keys is trying not to think about all the ranking points that balance on her performance this fortnight. 

"How many points do I have coming up I need to defend? Well, I'm trying not to think of it that way," she said earlier this week. "The biggest thing is to not put pressure on myself and think it's a failed tournament if I don't make the finals or win. For me, it's doing the things I can do to control the situation, see how things go."

Her big strokes resonate well in Arthur Ashe Stadium, and against Krunic she didn’t necessarily play a bad first set, she just played a far more penetrating, controlling and clean second and third set. Keys is comfortable on Ashe, having played seven of her last nine matches on the biggest tennis stage in the world.  

The talented Serbian is no stranger to upsets in New York. The 25-year-old had her first breakthrough here back in 2014. That year, after winning her first-ever Grand Slam main-draw match, she reached the fourth round with upsets over Keys and Petra Kvitova.

But Krunic struggled to find a rhythm in this match, something that's defined her season. After winning ’s-Hertogenbosch on grass in June for her biggest career title, she came into the US Open on a five-match losing streak. At least she defended her third-round US Open points from last year. 

Keys isn't dwelling too much on her points defense. Rather, looking ahead to her fourth round, she can draw on her 2017 comeback experiences—and now her 2018 one, too. 

"I think the confidence comes more from knowing I was able to get myself back in so many matches last year after being down," she said. "So the biggest confidence boost for me has been being able to get myself back into those matches and knowing that in a situation like today, if I make some adjustments and stay calm, then I can usually figure things out."


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