Madison Keys is into the last eight at her home Grand Slam for the second time in two years, and will be hoping she can make it two successive semifinals with a win against Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro on Wednesday. Suarez Navarro, however, is in fine form, with the 30th seed having already claimed some big name scalps this fortnight. But she has never won a Grand Slam quarterfinal, losing her previous six. Who will come out on top?
Keys has managed to outlast Suarez Navarro in all three of the previous matches between the two women, but none of the victories have come easily. All three matches - two of which were played on hard court and one on grass - went to three sets, with their 2016 match at the Birmingham Classic a particularly memorable battle. In that match, Suarez Navarro won the first set 6-3, but Keys rallied to level the match before claiming it in a deciding tiebreak, 3-6 6-3 7-6.
Path to the quarterfinals
Keys hasn’t skipped a beat on her way to the quarterfinals, dropping just a single set along the way. She got through her opening two matches against French veteran Pauline Parmentier and her compatriot Bernarda Pera easily. Serbia’s Aleksandra Krunic challenged her by winning the first set 6-4. But Keys bounced back to win 4-6 6-1 6-2 in relatively comfortable fashion, before blowing past 29th seed Dominika Cibulkova 6-1 6-3.
Suarez Navarro’s run hasn’t been as easy, but she has had some impressive victories. It took her three tight sets to get past first Nicole Gibbs and then former world #10 Kristina Mladenovic before she met sixth seed Carolina Garcia in the third round. After dropping the first set 5-7, she fought back to claim a rousing 5-7 6-4 7-6 victory. In the last 16, she faced Maria Sharapova in what looked a tough match on paper, but ended in a comfortable 6-4 6-3 Suarez Navarro victory.
How do they match up?
As is almost always the case when Keys takes to the court, she will make most of the running offensively. Indeed, against the more naturally defensive Suarez Navarro, that pattern will likely be stronger than usual. Keys is one of the most powerful ball strikers on the WTA Tour, and is able to generate terrific power off the ground, as evidenced by her tally of 118 winners so far, and she is also tied for second in the ace race with 26.
Despite her diminutive stature - she stands at just 5’4” - Suarez Navarro also has plenty of power in her game. But, against Keys it will be her impressive foot speed and court coverage which she will rely on most heavily. She does, however, also have impressive variety, particularly on her backhand, and will be more than capable of challenging Keys from the baseline. Her serve can be a weakness though and it is one Keys would do well to exploit with aggressive returning.
Suarez Navarro has been very impressive in working her way through to the quarterfinals, but Keys seems to have the measure of just about everybody in Flushing Meadows. The American looks to be full of confidence and clearly the memories of her great run last year are fresh in her mind. Suarez Navarro has the quality to ensure that this win won’t come easily, but nonetheless expect Keys to reach her second straight US Open semifinal with a tight two set win.