World No. 51 Madison Keys’ Australian Open run continues when she faces world No. 4 Barbora Krejcikova in the quarterfinals on Tuesday. Both of these players earned impressive victories, Keys over world No. 6 Paula Badosa, 6-3, 6-1; Krejcikova over two-time tournament champion Victoria Azarenka, 6-2, 6-2. Despite being ranked significantly higher than her 25th-ranked opponent, Krejcikova was actually going off at +170 in that match.
While Krejcikova is playing some great tennis coming into this match, it’s hard to overlook just how impressive Keys has been thus far. The 26-year-old has dropped only one set through four matches, and she has already eliminated Badosa and world No. 13 Sofia Kenin.
Keys, who had some serious issues keeping the ball in play over the past two years, had 26 winners to just 18 unforced errors against Badosa. That’s been a huge theme of the tournament for the American, who has been pounding the ball but isn’t missing all that often. Keys has also been getting a lot of free points with her first serve, which is looking like a legitimate weapon for the first time in a while.
Not only is Keys playing like her vintage self early—she is a former world No. 7—but the conditions in Australia couldn’t possibly be better suited for her game. These fast, bouncy courts bring out the absolute best in her power style, and it’s only going to make it harder on Krejcikova to track balls down and redirect them the way she likes to. Overall, it wouldn’t be too surprising if the Czech really has a hard time extending points. But even when she does, Keys should be able to run down some shots and play some defense of her own. The American has showed off some improved movement early in the new season, and that’s a big part of the reason she is looking so dangerous in this event.
It should also be noted that playing in the day session slightly favors Keys in this match. Krejcikova had some small fitness concerns towards the end of the 2021 season (you might remember some of the drama following her match against Garbine Muguruza at the US Open), and it’s going to be extremely hot when these two take the court. That shouldn’t be an issue for Keys, who lives in Florida and is used to these higher temperatures.
We’ve had good results when riding Keys throughout the course of this tournament, and we’re not going to back away from her here. The American is feeling herself right now and she genuinely has as good a shot as anyone to come away with the title in Melbourne. This should end up being a battle, but expect Keys to be raising her arms in victory when all is said and done.
The Pick: Madison Keys to win (+105)