Madison Keys and Andrea Petkovic met for only the second time, in their first round match in Rome. It was Petkovic who came into the match with the slight mental advantage, as she picked up a straight sets victory over Keys the last time the two faced off.
Keys came into the match today, in slightly better form than her opponent. The American won three of her last five matches, whereas Petkovic had only won two of her previous five. This being said, both players would have wanted to go on a good run in this tournament, with the French Open only a couple of weeks away.
Keys gets the decisive break
Keys got off to the best possible start in the match. The American raced to a 3-0 lead in the opening set, putting her in control early on. During these three games, Keys comfortably held her service twice, and also broke Petkovic. The 21-year-old raced to a 40-15 lead and despite Petkovic fending off two of the break point chances and having her own chance to take the game, Keys eventually found a way to get past her opponent. Keys took her third break point opportunity to win the game and put herself in a commanding position in the set.
Petkovic got herself on the board in the fourth game. The German looked much more comfortable than she did in her opening service game and she went on to hold her service with relative ease. Petkovic then had a chance to put the set back on serve. The world number 30 worked herself into a position where she could break Keys, however, she failed to capitalize on the two chances she had, which allowed Keys to go on and hold her serve.
In the seventh game of the set, Petkovic did get herself back in the match. Petkovic raced to a 40-15 lead, giving herself another break point opportunity. This time around the German took her chance, on the first time of asking, putting the set back on serve. Petkovic and Keys both held their next service games without losing more than two points. This took the set to 5-4, meaning Petkovic had to serve to stay in the set.
The pressure to serve to stay in the set clearly got to Petkovic, as the German lost the game, which gave Keys the set. Keys quickly found herself with two set point opportunities, one of which Petkovic managed to fight off. Unfortunately for the German, a combination of nerves and some good play by Keys, meant that Keys was able to take the set on the second time of asking.
Petkovic struggles as Keys comfortably takes the second set
Petkovic's start to the second start was much better than that off the first. The German had seemingly put the disappointment of losing the opening set behind her, as she broke Keys in the very first game. Petkovic capitalized on some sloppy play by Keys, to break the American, with her second break point opportunity. With the early lead, it looked like Petkovic was going to go on and take control of the set, but it turned out to do the complete opposite.
After being broken in the previous game, Keys looked determined to turn things around quickly. This led her to quickly level the score in the set. The young American, broke Petkovic straight back, with the help of a string of errors from her opponent. It was all downhill from here for Petkovic, as Keys made the most of her momentum to race through the remainder of the set.
Keys looked comfortable during the rest of the set, winning all of the games that were remaining, despite Petkovic's best efforts. The German fended off a number of break point chances for Keys, and also had her own chances to break the American, however, a number of errors as well as some very good play by Keys, meant that Petkovic could not capitalize on anything.
Keys ended the match, with a strong hold of service. The 21-year-old did not let the pressure of serving for the match get to her and she went on win her service game to love. After an hour and twenty minutes, Keys had defeated Petkovic 6-4, 6-1, to progress in the tournament. The American will now face two-time Grand Slam champion Petra Kvitova in the second round.