Keys overwhelms Svitolina to progress at Adelaide International 2

10 January 2022, by Matt Trollope

Madison Keys is showing signs of a revival, with the American eliminating No.2 seed Elina Svitolina to reach the second round of the Adelaide International 2 tournament.

Keys was both too powerful and too consistent for the Ukrainian, winning 6-2 6-4 to set up a meeting with either Dayana Yastremska or Tereza Martincova.

Keys was joined in the second round by Tokyo Olympics silver medallist Marketa Vondrousova, former top-20 players Ana Konjuh and Alison Riske, and teenage rising star Marta Kostyuk, a straight-sets winner over Shelby Rogers.

Konjuh eliminated Australian favourite Daria Saville, but there was joy for the host nation when Storm Sanders – a winner of Sunday’s doubles title at Adelaide International 1 alongside Ash Barty – qualified for the main draw.

And there was a great result for Australia in the men’s draw, with wildcard Aleksandar Vukic upsetting No.6 seed Alexander Bublik 7-6(5) 6-2.

World No.36 Bublik marked a first top-50 win for Vukic, who moved through the second round along with Tommy Paul – a straight-sets victor over fellow American Frances Tiafoe – and Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech.

“I tried to stay present. Luckily got that first set, which was very tight. Could have gone either way. Made it tricky in the tiebreak as well. But, yeah, very happy to get the first win,” said the world No.160, who next plays either fellow wildcard Alex Bolt, or qualifier Steve Johnson – the man who pipped him in the first round of last week’s Adelaide event.

“I thought it was really important not to be too down on myself (after last week’s tight loss to Johnson) because I have done that in the past. Stayed positive. I felt like I just kind of keep on track.

“If I play at a decent level, like I did that day, like I did today, good things can happen.”

In Monday night’s late match, Vukic’s compatriot John Millman went down 6-2 6-2 to heavy-hitting Spaniard Jaume Munar, who will next face fourth seed Marin Cilic.

Keys v Svitolina: a rivalry renewed

This was a tough first-round assignment for both Keys and Svitolina, who have split four career meetings and whose last three matches have come in the fourth round at major tournaments.

All of those Grand Slam matches came when both were ranked in the top 20, but Keys has since slipped to 87th.

She admitted she got “too wrapped up in the winning and the losing” and lost some joy for playing in 2021, but having won two of three matches to open this season, she appears to be trending upwards once again.

“I’m trying to make myself live in the moment a little bit more. So my focus really for this year is to love competing, love every moment of it, and just go out and try to do the best that I can,” said the former world No.7.

“I’m pretty happy with that (performance). Obviously I think I served really well and I think that was kind of the biggest part of my game tonight that helped me get ahead. Then I think I just kept belief really well.

“I was really happy with my pre-season, was able to put in a full eight weeks. Really happy with my team and how much work we put in, and I’m feeling really good.”

Keys raced to a 4-0 lead on Centre Court at the Memorial Drive Tennis Centre, before Svitolina – who also lost her first-round match at Adelaide International 1 to Anastasia Gasanova – held to get on the board at 4-1.

That’s when Keys played an impeccable service game, slotting four consecutive aces to stretch her lead to 5-1 and putting the first set almost beyond doubt.

She made sure to take it – thanks to two more aces – and Svitolina showed increasing signs of frustration as she snatched a forehand wide to trail 15-40 in the third game of the second set.

Keys converted that break point, and maintained her advantage for the remainder of the match.

While 16th-ranked Svitolina held serve in the ninth game to force Keys to serve it out, the 26-year-old American did not falter.

She pounded two more aces plus an unreturnable serve to reach 40-0, and converted her first match point.

Keys finished with 14 aces among 28 winners and committed just 17 errors, compared with Svitolina’s 31.