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Wednesday September 23rd, 2020 9:46AM

US Open runner-up Keys avoids latest women's upset loss

By The Associated Press
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NEW YORK (AP) — Dickie V found a totally awesome PTP'er in the U.S Open's women's bracket.

His pick is on point — Madison Keys knows how to make a Final Four.

"Madison's backhand is lethal !" Vitale tweeted Saturday from the Open . "Her physical skills r #awesomebaby."

Keys was one of the fortunate favorites in the Open, as she survived-and-advanced to the Sweet 16.

But much like Vitale would say in a March stuffed with busted brackets, the women's side is filled with upset specials.

Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber was the latest single-digit seed eliminated, leaving none of this year's Grand Slam winners left in the U.S. Open.

No. 29 seed Dominika Cibulkova rallied Saturday to beat the fourth-seeded Kerber 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, leaving only one of the top-four seeds on the women's side in the tournament after three rounds.

Top-ranked Simona Halep, the French Open champion, was eliminated in the first round. Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki, the No. 2 seed, fell in the second.

Only No. 3 seed and defending champion Sloane Stephens remains among the top-four seeds.

Just a quick scan of the bracket finds more. On Saturday, sixth-seeded Caroline Garcia and No. 13 seed Kiki Bertens were eliminated in three sets.

The early stunners seem to clear the field for No. 17 seed, oh, and six-time champion, Serena Williams to steamroll toward another title.

"I think she's playing really good tennis," Keys said.

That's a polite way of saying, uh oh, Serena's coming.

The 14th-seeded Keys has stuck around in a field smacked with upsets.

Keys whiffed on an overhead, fought a case of first-set jitters and never found a groove with her backhand. She rallied after dropping the first set and the U.S. Open finalist from a year ago beat Aleksandra Krunic 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Saturday.

Keys plays Cibulkova in the quarters.

"I think she's super feisty," Keys said.

Keys lost to Stephens in the final last year and lost to her again this year in the French Open semis. But Keys has been plagued with various injuries (right wrist and ribs, notably) most of the season and slipped out of the top 10 in the rankings.

Krunic beat Keys four years ago at Ashe and the Serb seemed poised to do it again when she took the first set. Keys rebounded to win 12 of the last 15 games and thanked the pro-American fans for pulling her through into the round of 16.

"The biggest confidence boost for me has been being able to get myself back into those matches and knowing that in a situation like today, if I make some adjustments and stay calm, then I can usually figure things out," Keys said.

Keys' parents are both attorneys and she picked up some jargon — from a different kind of court — when she explained how she fanned on an overhead.

"In my defense," she said, laughing, "the sun was right there. The ball went right there and I couldn't see it. You know, it happens. At least it doesn't happen to everyone else on national television."

She pleaded the fifth when asked how having the top seeds out of the tourney affects her and potentially makes for an easier road back to the final. Like everyone else who watched, she couldn't ignore, though, the dominance by Williams over sister Venus Williams on Friday night. Serena equaled her most-lopsided victory against her sister with a 6-1, 6-2 rout.

"I think she played really well. You obviously have to play well to beat Venus," Keys said.

The 23-year-old Keys joined Stephens, Venus Williams and CoCo Vandeweghe for an all-American semifinals at last year's Open. Keys' run to the French Open semifinals showed an overall development of her game. Her big-hitting style makes her more of a natural fit on hard courts and there's no reason she couldn't have another long stay in New York.

"Coming into here, I was, like, 'Oh, last time I was in here, I lost.' That's fun," Key said, smiling. "It's fine. I'm not torn up about it."

___

More AP tennis coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-Tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Tennis, AP Sports - Women's Tennis
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