Madison Keys earned one of her better wins in a while topping Wimbledon champion Simona Halep 6-1, 3-6, 7-5 in the match of the day at Cincinnati.
Keys actually led by a break in the third but after holding match points, she couldn’t serve it out. Halep battled back but Keys overwhelmed the Romanian with her power in the end.
“I think I played really smart tonight,” said Keys. “Obviously I played a really good first set, and I don’t think she played her best tennis in the first.
“I think the third set we both played a pretty high level of tennis. I think it was the first time in a long time that I just played a little bit more within myself and didn’t try to do too much too soon.
“She’s been No. 1 for a reason, won Grand Slams for a reason. I knew that she wasn’t just going to, you know, ever give up or give in. I knew the entire time I had to fully win the match before, you know, I could actually take a deep breath.”
Halep, who looked hobbled at times by that injured ankle from Canada, praised the American.
“She played unbelievable and was very powerful on court,” Halep said. “I knew that she’s going fast for all the balls and with power. I knew that this is her game and I expected a very tough start.
“I didn’t have the rhythm at the beginning, and then I fought and I got it but not enough to win the match.
“I say that I didn’t play my best but I played much better than yesterday and I moved better. It was a good step forward, so I’m going to keep working.”
Keys now faces the ageless Venus Williams. The 39-year-old Venus dropped the first but stormed back to beat Donna Vekic 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 to reach her first quarterfinal in months.
“I’m pretty pumped,” Venus said after the win. “When you’re winning, it’s fun. When you’re losing, it sucks. I’m happy to be winning, trying to prevent losses.”
Keys and Venus have split four meetings.
World No. 1 Naomi Osaka outlasted Su-Wei Hsieh 7-6(3), 5-7, 6-2. She’ll now face Sofia Kenin who beat Elina Svitolina for a second straight week.
“I thought I did pretty well,” Osaka said. “I feel like I knew going into the match that she was going to play really well. Like, we have such long matches every time we play, so I wasn’t expecting anything different this time around.”
Karolina Pliskova kept pace with Osaka for the No. 1 ranking beating Rebecca Petereson 7-5, 6-4. She’ll get Svetlana Kuznetsova who destroyed the struggling Sloane Stephens 6-1, 6-2.
Also in the top ranking hunt is Ash Barty and she also pulled through winning the last four games to beat Anett Kontaveit 4-6, 7-5, 7-5.
Barty will take on Maria Sakkari who eliminated Aryna Sabalenka.
“Maria is an incredible chick,” Barty said of the Greek. “She’s really one of my better friends on tour. She’s a lovely girl. I don’t think you can find anyone in the locker room that has a bad word to say about her.
“She’s genuinely a humble, hard-working person. I think when people like that work hard, they’re rewarded. This year she has been rewarded with some fantastic results. I have had some incredible matches with her in the past.
“I think these conditions suit Maria when she can use her kick serve, use her forehand when she has time. I think that’s the challenge for me tomorrow, is to go out there and try and nullify that serve as best that I can and try and be on top of some points.”
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