Madison Keys in back into the Australian Open quarterfinals, and she dominated to get there.
Rolling from start to finish inside Rod Laver Arena on Sunday in a 6-3, 6-1 win over No.8 seed Paula Badosa of Spain, Keys advanced to her eighth career Grand Slam quarterfinal and first in Australia since 2018.
Only three of Keys' 19 prior victories over Top 10 players came at Grand Slams, but she set the tone early against World No.6 and Sydney champion Badosa — though both players were coming off tough three-set matches in the third round.
The Spaniard never led in the match, which lasted 69 minutes.
Keys dropped just five points on serve in the opening set, serving at a staggering 72%, and doubled her winners (16) to unforced errors (8) over a half-hour of play. Her score line was more impressive in the second set, but she came through admirable early challenges from Badosa to get there. The two players traded service breaks with a pair of multi-deuce games before Keys ran off the next five to win the match.
Words from the winner: "I'm really happy with how I played today," Keys said. "I think I served a lot better than I did in the last match. I think I returned well. I think overall I just started off either neutral or kind of ahead in the point. I had a lot of opportunities to try to move forward.
"I think just my mindset really let me play that good tennis. That's really what I've been trying to focus on, just giving myself the opportunity to allow myself to play tennis like I did today."
Let the vibes continue: Keys, now 10-1 in 2022, has been frank about the attitude adjustment that has led to her strong start to the season. As she gets deeper in the tournament, she says she wants to keep the good vibes rolling in high-pressure situations.
"I think it obviously gets harder just because you get tighter and it's bigger moments," she said. "Even in the finals in Adelaide, I started incredibly nervous and I felt that. Just acknowledging it, accepting it, not trying to fight it and pretend that it's not happening has been probably the best thing that I've done.
"Almost kind of just like force myself through it instead of trying to fight it. Not just pretend that it's not happening, but just accepting it I think has been the biggest thing. Knowing that it's going to happen, [and] just be prepared for it."
Up next: After playing Badosa for the first time, Keys earns another first meeting against Barbora Krejcikova. The No.4 seed was a 6-2, 6-2 winner against two-time Australian Open champion and No.24 seed Victoria Azarenka.
Keys was nonetheless effusive in her praise of the reigning French Open champion in her post-match press conference.
"I think she's kind of just making tennis look easy," Keys said. "It seems like no matter what people are doing, she very quickly figures it out and has another game plan to quickly implement.
"Then I think the other thing about her is that she's also an incredible doubles player. She moves forward so naturally that I feel like if you give her the opportunity, she's just on top of you all of a sudden, then she's at the net. Obviously, it's not easy to pass her. ... An incredibly difficult matchup."
Krejcikova ousts last remaining Aussie Open champion in Azarenka
Barbora Krejcikova had never advanced past the second round in Melbourne but has now reached the quarterfinals with a 6-2, 6-2 victory against No.24 seed Victoria Azarenka, the lone former Australian Open winner remaining in the draw.
"I really respect Vika," Krejcikova said in victory. "I think Rod Laver Arena is like her living room. She really likes it there. She's really experienced on that court. For me it means a lot, it's really special.
"I think I was doing really well today. I think I was just handling Vika's play really well. I think I was overplaying her at some important moments. I think I just did a really good job. I'm really happy with the win today and with the score line"
Tale of the tape: While Krejcikova played some of her best tennis in an 85-minute victory, hitting 23 winners to 12 unforced errors, Azarenka was also seemingly slowed by a neck injury. Trailing by a set and a break at 6-2, 1-0, Azarenka received an on-court medical timeout, and though she found some vintage form to win back-to-back games and level at 2-2, she wouldn't win another game. Azarenka tallied 16 winners and 28 unforced errors, and also served six double faults.
Welcome to the final 8 👋@BKrejcikova cruises into the #AusOpen quarterfinals for the first time, dominating Victoria Azarenka 6-2 6-2. #AO2022— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 23, 2022
🎥: @wwos · @espn · @Eurosport · @wowowtennis pic.twitter.com/cpohNhqrfg
Krejcikova on Keys: Similarly, Krejcikova was also praised for Keys ahead of their quarterfinal match.
"Madison, she's playing great," Krejcikova said. "I've seen her today. She was flawless. She was really playing well. I mean, I'm following a lot of tennis matches, so I know what is happening.
"I think she's really powerful. I think she's always been very powerful. I think she does her things well. I think she likes to be aggressive. Today, she was really serving well and she was also hitting her forehand really well. This is what she was doing really, really good. We have to find a way how to eliminate these things, how to give her my game."