Keys rallies back to beat Putintseva and reach Paris semi-finals
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.
"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."
At the beginning stages of the match, both players were settled in comfortably, remaining on serve through the first six games. In the seventh, it was Putintseva who broke through first. The Ukrainian, who has struggled this year and was barely Top 100 entering the French Open, tracked down a Keys drop shot and flicked a better one back to gain the first break.
Putintseva then held to take a 5-3 lead. Keys held in her next game to force Putintseva to serve out the set. Facing the possibility of an early deficit, Keys applied more pressure on the world No. 98 and got the break back.
After a comfortable hold of her own, Keys kept pushing, earning two set points on Putintseva's serve. After staving those off, Putintseva took the first two points of the tiebreak, only to see her early advantage quickly erased as Keys—continually blasting her groundstrokes—won the next four points in a row. The American would go on to capture the first set, 7-6 (5).
The second set started off in similar fashion to the opener, with both players remaining on serve through the first few games. This time, it was Keys who got the late break to place herself in position to serve for a berth in the semifinals. On match point, Keys served an ace out wide, pushing her even deeper into the second week of the French Open.
At last year's French Open, Keys—still trying to regain her form after a wrist injury—fell in the second round to qualifier Petra Martic. After struggling through the clay and grass seasons, the young American finally started to regain her stride, culminating with a runner-up finish to Sloane Stephens at the U.S. Open. Grand Slams clearly bring out the best in her, of late.