New York: American Madison Keys clinched her second consecutive U.S. Open semi-final berth on Wednesday, using her powerful serve and fiery forehand to get an edge on 30th seed Carla Suarez Navarro and win 6-4 6-3.
While the pair initially seemed evenly matched, the momentum shifted in Keys' favour in the second set of the 83-minute affair, as she dominated with her powerful service game. "I felt good today. You know, being out in front of an energetic crowd is always fun," Keys said in an on-court interview. "I still haven't totally processed this match."
Keys, who fired six aces and fended off both break point opportunities against her during the match, told reporters that adapting to Suarez Navarro's versatile play proved critical.
"She does a really good job ... of holding the baseline and redirecting the ball," Keys said. "So I knew that I was going to have to play really well but also know that she's going to come up with some great shots and defend really well."
Suarez Navarro, whose own service game was under pressure, told reporters the 14th-seeded American had simply outplayed her. "She was returning in pressure situation every time because I don't have a big first service," the Spaniard said. "I think this was really important part of the game.
"Also, she was really good with her serve. I mean, I cannot return like I used to. She was more fresh than me. Faster, you know. That's it."
Keys, who lost the final last year to Sloane Stephens, now faces fellow power player Naomi Osaka of Japan in what could be a combustible semi-final on Thursday. She leads Osaka 3-0 in head to head and most recently defeated the 20th seed in straight sets in the third round at Roland Garros in June.
"I think we play similarly," Keys said of facing Osaka. "I think power, obviously a big serve. I think I probably have a little bit more spin on the ball, but I think she takes time away really well.
"I don't think we will have tons of long rallies."