Roland Garros 2019: Ashleigh Barty vs Madison Keys, preview and prediction
Barty, the sole Australian remaining in the singles draw, has been on a meteoric rise this year with a series of eye-catching performances that peaked with her winning the biggest title of her career in Miami. The eighth seed is playing in her second Grand Slam singles quarterfinal (after having reached the last eight at the 2019 Australian Open), and her first at Roland Garros.
Barty overcame a lacklustre moment during the second set against Serena Williams' conqueror Sofia Kenin before finishing strongly, winning the final set 6-0. The Australian No. 1 had eased through her opening three matches against Jessica Pegula, Andrea Petkovic and Danielle Collins in straight sets before she was pushed to her limits against the talented young American Kenin.
She will now have the chance to avenge her brutal loss to Keys in the second round at the French Open a couple of seasons ago. Much has changed since that defeat, as the 23-year-old is now an established top-10 player in the women's circuit.
Barty has an excellent 28-5 win-loss record for the season and she was instrumental in guiding Team Australia into the Fed Cup final too. She is projected to rise as high as No. 6 when the new rankings are officially released next week.
Keys has quietly sneaked through the draw and is now on the cusp of reaching her second straight French Open semifinal. Keys had arrived in Paris in mixed form. After winning her first title of the season in Charleston, she was dumped out in the opening round in Madrid and then lost to Sofia Kenin in the second round in Rome.
With the draw opening up following a few casualties, Keys took advantage of the situation, battling past Priscilla Hon and Anna Blinkova in three sets before seeing off Naomi Osaka's conqueror Katerina Siniakova in the fourth round.
The former US Open finalist is one of the most powerful baseliners in the women's game, known for her explosiveness from the forehand wing. She is certainly not a natural clay-court player but she has the advantage of utilizing the big bounce of the slow courts in Paris to execute her groundstrokes.
Both these two players have had a remarkable tournament, and it is a shame it will end in agony for one of them at the end of this quarterfinal meeting. This will be a clash of styles; Keys utilizes raw power while Barty prefers to go for poise.
The Australian will undoubtedly trouble the American with her wicked slice on the return, but the slow bounce will play into Keys' hands.
Prediction: Madison Keys to win in three sets.