BOOM. An all-American quarter-final between Venus Williams and Madison Keys will be served up in Melbourne and I am excited. This will be Keys’s first ever Grand Slam quarter-final, while Venus is here for the first time since 2010. Venus snapped a four match losing streak to upset Agnieszka Radwanska in three sets, 6-3 2-6 6-1. The key in the first set was a mammoth 12 deuce, 7th game which Venus won . After winning the first set, Venus went off for a wander, losing six of the next seven games and hitting four times as many errors as Radwanska in the second set. Venus wrestled the momentum back to win the last six games of the match and bag a first win over Aga since 2010. Venus is still unbeaten in 2015 and is 3-0 in three set matches this year.
Keys reached the last eight with a straight sets win over fellow Madison and fellow American, Madison Brengle, 6-2 6-4. Sometimes backing up the upset can be just as difficult and Keys passed with flying colours. There were plenty of errors, but Keys hit a bundle of winners to counteract them, finishing with 38 winners to 33 unforced errors. One area of Keys’s game that has really impressed me this year has been her commitment to moving up the court and finishing points off at the net. I remember after her first round match in Sydney against Svetlana Kuznetsova, she said in an on-court interview that if she didn’t come into net enough, then her coach would make her hit more volleys after the match. It is paying dividends here as she completely dominated Brengle and won 82% of net points.
Venus and Madison have met just once on tour with Venus prevailing in a tight two setter in Charleston in 2013, 6-3 6-3. This is a real feel good match-up. It’s so lovely to see Venus back in the quarter-finals and I can’t praise her enough for the way that she battles on the tennis court. A win over Keys would almost help her chances of breaking back into the top ten, which is just staggering. On the other side of the net, it’s exciting to have some fresh blood at this stage of the tournament. There’s no doubt that Keys has got it although the hype machine will go probably into overdrive after this tournament. It is often the response to a big breakthrough result that is most telling….
So who’s going to win… Jeepers this is tough. I really am struggling to pick out a winner. Venus has more experience at this stage of a Grand Slam although she hasn’t been here for a while. For Keys, this will be the biggest match of her career. It will be interesting to see if she’s happy with getting this far or truly believes she can win the whole tournament. Fatigue could be an issue with Venus although she showed in Canada last year that she is a machine, winning four three setters in a week to make the final. There’s so many different elements to consider and with little data to go on between the pair, i’m really stumped. Venus… Madison… Venus… Madison… Venus? I’ve changed my mind about 92 times. I’m sticking with Venus… I think.
Prediction: V.Williams d. Keys in 3 sets