A finalist last year in New York, Madison Keys arrives this year after a difficult season. It has not been without success and a quarterfinal finish at Melbourne Park and a semifinal run in Paris were fine returns for the American. But there have also been more than a few early defeats. Parmentier, a veteran of considerable experience, has enjoyed a resurgence this year and would surely love to continue it at Keys’ expense. But who will come out on top?
Keys and Parmentier have met once previously, with that match coming earlier this year in semifinal action in the Fed Cup World Group in Aix-en-Provence on clay. It proved a hard-fought tie, but one from which the Americans emerged triumphant. And it was Keys who earned them the victory, defeating Parmentier in the fourth rubber 7-6 6-4 to give the USA an unassailable lead, though the French recovered some pride with a win in the doubles.
Last time out
Keys impressed in reaching the semifinals in Paris, but could not carry that good form over the Channel and she lost in the third round at Wimbledon to Evgeniya Rodina. She had been due to begin her hard court campaign in San Jose against Ajla Tomljanovic but withdrew before the tournament began. She was then absent in Montreal but returned in Cincinnati. There she bested Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Camila Giorgi and Angelique Kerber before losing to Aryna Sabalenka in the last eight.
After a loss in the first round at Wimbledon, Parmentier returned to Tour-level action in Bucharest, beating Alexandra Dulgheru before retiring when trailing 6-7 0-3 against Wang Yafan. She then lost in three sets in the first round at the Moscow River Cup to Anastasija Sevastova. She missed the tournaments in both Montreal and Cincinnati, but begun her hard court season in Connecticut, coming through the qualifying but losing in the first round to Anett Kontaveit.
How do they match up?
When Madison Keys is striking the ball well, she can be almost unplayable. She can summon fearsome power from both her forehand and backhand and has a dangerous serve. Against Kerber in Ohio, she served an impressive nine aces and hit just one double fault. She delivered similarly impressive statistics against Sabalenka in the quarterfinals, with eight aces and one double fault, but she was overwhelmed by Sabalenka’s heavy hitting.
Which speaks to the one notable weakness in Keys’ game, her movement. She is not particularly comfortable when on the backfoot and that can leave her struggling against her fellow big-hitters. Parmentier does not fall into that category, however. Her success comes more from her ability to remain consistent more than notable power. But if she can defend well throughout, she may be able to draw Keys into a costly number of unforced errors.
Before her run to the final last year, Keys had never managed to find her best game at the Slam that is surely most important to her. Her best result had been two trips to the fourth round. But, with the memories of that run to the final now giving her confidence, one suspects her struggles in Flushing Meadows will be behind her. That does not mean she will make the final again, but it does mean she will beat Parmentier. Keys in straight sets.