NEW YORK, NY, USA - Last year’s finalist Madison Keys is back into the fourth round at the US Open for the fourth year in a row after battling through a tough three-setter against Aleksandra Krunic.
The No.14 seeded Keys responded emphatically after narrowly losing the opening set, going on to drop just three games total in her 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 victory after an hour and 45 minutes on court.
“I think the biggest thing was I had to do was kind of figure out a way to get her off of the baseline as much,” Keys said of her second and third set adjustments. “I think in the first set she was holding her ground really well and kind of dictating the points.
“When I'm playing tennis, I want to be the one that's dictating points and the one that's not running as much. That was the biggest adjustment I had to make.”
With just one break point on offer throughout the tightly contested opening set, it was Krunic who capitalized on the early opportunity to start with a 1-0 lead. Her strong serving kept her on the front foot in the rallies, posting back-to-back love holds as she marched to close out the opening set.
Krunic was keen to start the second set the same way as the first, bringing up break chances in Keys’ first service game, but the American fought off both chances. She replied strongly to finally break Krunic for the first time in the match, and consolidate to a 3-0 lead.
At 2-0, Krunic took a tumble on the court, scraping her knee and requiring a medical time out - came back with her knee wrapped, but by the time she regained her rhythm Keys had raised her level, her punishing forehands firing at full strength to reel off the last three games in a row and serve it out with confidence.
Keys and Krunic were locked in a tight battle at the start of the third, the momentum swinging between the two as they exchanged five consecutive breaks of serve. It was Keys who emerged with the edge, holding serve for a 4-2 lead and reeling off the last two games of the match to close out her spot in the fourth round.
Keys, who previously had lost to Krunic in a tough three-set heartbreaker at the 2014 US Open, credits her experience at the Grand Slam level as part of the key to her victory.
“I think those years ago I had played on Armstrong for, like, the first or second time and it was my biggest crowd and all that,” Keys explained. “Just the experience, I think, is a big
“The biggest thing was just being on that stage more and more and being more comfortable in a situation where I lost the first set, but I know I can come back.”
Up next in the fourth round, Keys will face the big hitting No.29 seed Dominika Cibulkova, who upset 2016 champion Angelique Kerber 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 later in the day.
“I think she's super feisty. She never gives up,” Keys said. “I think she definitely goes for her shots and is pretty aggressive.”