Keys rallies back to beat Putintseva and reach Paris semi-finals


Madison Keys of the US celebrates after winning her quarter final match against Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva Photo: REUTERS

PARIS: Madison Keys reached her maiden French Open semi-final, rallying from a break down in the opening set to claim a solid 7-6(5) 6-4 victory against Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva on Tuesday.

The American 13th seed, playing in her third consecutive Grand Slam quarter-final, was 5-3 down in the first set when she stepped up a gear to advance without having lost a set.

She will take on either Russian Daria Kasatkina or 10th seed Sloane Stephens, nine months after her compatriot beat her in the U.S. Open final.

“Thank you everyone for coming and supporting me, I did need a lot of support today,” said Keys.

“In the first set, I just needed to focus more and trust my game.

“I’m obviously very happy to win in straight sets again and I look forward to the next match.”

In humid conditions on Court Suzanne Lenglen, both players were solid on their serve with no break points in the first six games.

The unseeded Putintseva, who played more safely, had the first break opportunity in the seventh game, which she converted when Keys buried a backhand into the net.

Keys, however, broke back for 5-5 with a stunning forehand winner down the line and the set would be decided in a tiebreak.

Putintseva, who was hoping to become the first Kazakh player — female or male — to qualify for a Grand Slam semi-final, opened up a 2-0 lead, only for the American to score four points in a row and take control.

Keys bagged the set at the end of a long rally in which her opponent defended ferociously, gradually stepping into the court to end the exchange with a backhand winner.

Keys had the first break chance in the second set and a lightning quick service return gave her the edge as she moved 4-3 up.

She held serve until the end, prevailing on her first match point thanks to a powerful ace.

Written by Prabin Bikram Katwal
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