World No. 6 Paula Badosa earned a tough three-set victory over Marta Kostyuk in the third round of the Australian Open, but things will only get tougher with former world No. 7 Madison Keys on deck. The American is playing some incredible tennis entering this exciting match-up, as she won a tune-up title in Adelaide last week and has maintained that level in Melbourne.

Badosa is a remarkable player and enters this round on an eight-match winning streak, but this isn’t as simple as calling any other meeting between a Top 10 player and one on the outside of the Top 50. When Keys is on her game, she’s one of the best players on the WTA tour; at the very least, she absolutely has the firepower to put a scare into Badosa.

In the first round of this tournament, Keys’ powerful serves and forehands helped her eliminate 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin with a 7-6 (2), 7-5 victory. Keys then followed it up with a dominant straight-set win over world No. 69 Jaqueline Cristian, and she most recently earned a 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (2) victory over Qiang Wang—a former world No. 12 that is similarly working her way back into form.

The 2020 and 2021 seasons were absolutely brutal for Keys, as she battled injuries and struggled to find any sort of consistency. As a result, the 26-year-old was low in confidence, and she was unable to overpower her opponents on the court. Far too often, Keys was racking up unforced errors and struggling with her serve. But those problems seem to be in the rearview mirror.

With Keys back to looking like her usual self, it’s hard to envision a scenario in which this match isn’t close. She certainly has a chance to win this one outright, but we’d be stunned if she doesn’t at least force a third set. Badosa is capable on all surfaces, but these courts in Melbourne are perfectly suited for Keys’ game.

Badosa also struggled with her serve in her win over Kostyuk, as she had nine double faults in that match. If the Spaniard isn’t efficient with the ball on her racquet, she’s going to have a tough time covering against Keys. The American’s serve is enough of a weapon to at least give her a chance late in sets, and that’s really enough to make her a good bet to take at least one in this match. Keys will just need to make sure she doesn’t overdo things while trying to beat Badosa from the baseline.

Both of these women possess a ton of power, but Keys can’t afford to start spraying unforced errors here. She had 50 in her victory over Wang, and that type of play would leave her vulnerable against the 24-year-old.

The Pick: Madison Keys +1.5 Sets (-140)