WTA Miami: Madison Keys Gets Past Irina Begu in Stunning Performance to Reach Miami Quarterfinals

Both players had never gotten so far into the tournament, their best results were the third round. In order to get here, Madison Keys, the 22nd seeded, had a first round bye, and then she got past Kristen Flipkens, and then she beat the new number 8 player in the world, Roberta Vinci who has been having a decent year.

Last year, Keys lost against fellow American Sloane Stephens in the second round. As for Irina-Camelia Begu, she had to work harder to get to this match. She won against Maria Sakkari, coming back after being 0-5 down in the third set against Sabine Lisicki to win a terrific match, and then she beat Krystina Pliskova to set the third round meeting against the American.

Madison Keys needs to have a better run in big tournaments, after she managed to reach high stages in Grand Slams. Here, her former coach, Lindsey Davenport, helped her peak at the important moments. Now she is being coached by former ATP touring pro, Jesse Levine, and she recently added seven-time Grand Slam Champion, Mats Wilander, who declared to the Swedish media that he wants to add more top spin on Keys’ forehand and more variety in her game.

Begu, on the other side, in 2015 won a second WTA title in Seoul and reached a career high ranking of 31. She also reached 3rd round at French Open and Wimbledon, but recently she has been struggling with a right knee injury which stopped her from performing for most of the beginning of the season.

Keys wins the first set in under 30 minutes.

Both players managed to hold their serve easily with good depth from both. Keys has a good serve, with a lot of variation, and can hit flat, but also can get some spin on it. On the other hand, first serve percentage is really important for Begu, especially because Keys can try to put pressure on her second service. Begu is a good doubles player, so she likes to get to get forward, go to the net with each opportunity presented, but with Keys on the other side was really hard to succeed.

Keys tried to be more aggressive on the Romanian's serve, and she managed to get two break points to convert for a 4-2 lead. Keys started to strike the ball harder and harder, with heavy depth on the return, and even though Begu tried to go more on Keys’ backhand and to expose it every time, the American responded well, and never let her guard down.

Moreover she consolidated the breaks and got a 5-2 lead. Begu’s coach came down to try to give the Romanian a way to break Keys serve. Begu said she felt like she could do it, but that Keys was hitting really hard, and she could not read her serve. Knowing she needed to hit more to Keys' backhand, she did so, but got once again overwhelmed by Keys’ power, who on her fourth chance took the set 6-3.

Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Super tennis from Keys in the second set helps her into quarterfinals

Keys continued her good form in the second set and played her game. The American is not a great mover, so she liked to open the court and stay in the middle in order to dictate from there. This plan worked perfectly against a warry Romanian, who was unable to handle Keys' power. Everything the American did got through, and with such a great service, she didn’t need to do much more.

Every exchange was a big fight, a constant struggle to win points against a tough Keys, who even on defense, could hit a winner. Keys was in control, and got lots of free points thanks to her serve. Even though Begu should have tried to slice more, maybe go for some dropshots, time was running out for her. 

Keys kept on smashing every ball, getting herself in the leader position quite comfortably. Serving to stay in the match at 1-5, Begu started the game pretty well, and even went up 40-0, but Keys kept on creeping in with amazing returns, allowing with forehand and backhand winners. And on her first opportunity, Keys broke for the last time and ended the match.

Match stats

A stunning performance from Keys, who saved some energy going into the next round. What made the difference today was Keys' serves, she managed 70% on her first serve, 18 winners, whilst Begu only hit three (in the first set she hit none). As well, Keys converted three out of her five chances to break, whilst Begu never got herself in the position to break. With a smooth performance, Madison Keys advances into quarterfinals where she will face either Babos or Kerber.

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