Keys v Gauff in Adelaide International 2 semifinals

14 January 2022, by Matt Trollope

American stars Madison Keys and Coco Gauff will clash for a place in the Adelaide International 2 final after both came through their quarterfinals on Thursday.

Gauff, the No.3 seed, continued her impressive progress in the South Australian capital with a 6-3 6-4 win over former top-20 player Ana Konjuh.

Keys then booked a meeting with her countrywoman with a late-night, three-set win over Liudmila Samsonova.

It marks Keys’ first appearance in a tournament semifinal in two years; the last also came in Australia, at the 2020 Brisbane International.

“That’s gonna be tough. She’s young, excited, loves to play tennis, is incredibly good,” 26-year-old Keys said of facing the 17-year-old Gauff.

“She’s obviously had a phenomenal last two or three years. (It’s my) first time playing her so I’m looking forward to it.”

Keys, a former world No.7 who has since slipped to 87th, has been exhibiting a level in Adelaide this week reminiscent of the one she displayed in reaching at least the semifinal stage at four majors.

She upset No.2 seed Elina Svitolina in the first round and continued her imperious form on Thursday night against Samsonova.

She fired a forehand return winner to break the Russian for a 3-1 lead, before consolidating the break with an ace on her way to winning her fifth consecutive set of the week.

But she veered off course in the second set, double-faulting to fall behind 2-0.

Samsonova is equally as powerful as Keys and is in better recent form thanks to her breakout 2021 season, highlighted by her first WTA title at the 500-level event in Berlin, a run to the fourth round at Wimbledon, and a lead role in Russia’s Billie Jean King Cup triumph in November.

The world No.39 pounded a backhand winner for a 5-2 lead, and soon after sent the match into a third.

In a big-hitting battle where both women were increasingly strong on serve, games clicked over until deep in the final set, where from 30-0 up, Samsonova lost concentration.

Keys moved up to 30-30 and then surprised Samsonova with a powerful backhand return, drawing an error and earning a break point.

She converted when Samsonova missed a forehand into the tape, earning a 5-3 lead and an opportunity to serve for the match.

Keys made no mistake, powering an ace to open the game and a forehand winner – her 26th of the match – to close it.

“I’m really happy with how I played tonight; she’s obviously a phenomenal player and having such a good streak of tennis and such a big hitter, so I had to play some of my best tennis,” Keys said.

“I think I definitely levelled up, especially on my serve in the third set.”

Zidansek, Riske advance

Also advancing on Thursday were No.4 seed Tamara Zidansek and Alison Riske, who will clash in the other semifinal after registering starkly contrasting quarterfinal wins.

Riske made it three Americans in the final four when opponent Madison Brengle retired after just six games played in the first set.

Zidansek, a Roland Garros semifinalist last year, overcame Lauren Davis 7-6(4) 7-6(7) in a tense battle during which she trailed 5-3 in the first set and saved a set point in the second.

The win sends the Slovene through to her first semifinal in six months, where she will meet Riske for the first time.