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Keys stuns Badosa to power into Oz Open next round

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US’ Madison Keys hits a return against Spain’s Paula Badosa during their women’s singles match the Australian Open on Sunday. AFP

Keys stuns Badosa to power into Oz Open next round

Big-serving Madison Keys stunned eighth seed Paula Badosa to power into an Australian Open quarter-finals for a third time Sunday in a clash between two of the season’s most in-form players.

The unseeded American had a forgettable year in 2021 but thrives in Australia and comfortably toppled Badosa 6-3, 6-1 in sweltering heat on Rod Laver Arena.

It set her up with a last eight clash against either French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova or two-time Australian Open winner Victoria Azarenka.

“Absolutely amazing,” said Keys. “I served pretty well and I think I returned pretty well.

“So off of the first ball I had a bit of advantage on a lot of the points and then was able to dictate.

“I was going to have to take my chances and go for it because if I gave her an inch she was going to take it.”

Both players, among the tour’s biggest ball-strikers, have been in fine early season form.

The previous weekend, Keys picked up the Adelaide International title while Badosa upset Krejcikova to win the Sydney Classic.

But Keys, who beat 2020 champion Sofia Kenin in the first round, was dominant.

She was exceptional in the opening set with Badosa having few answers to her consistent returns and strong serves.

Keys broke the Spaniard’s first service game and gave Badosa little chance to strike back, slamming down serves at 188 kp/h and winning more than 80 per cent of her first serve points.

She closed out the set with 16 winners to her opponent’s four.

Badosa started taking more risks in the second set and landed some perfect returns to put pressure on the Keys serve.

They exchanged breaks before Keys’ consistency and precision saw her break three more times to wipe the Spaniard off court.

The 2017 US Open finalist has played some of her best tennis in Australia, making the semi-finals 2015 and the quarters three years later with a sparkling 24-8 career record at Melbourne Park.

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