Volvo Car Open: Madison Keys fends off Jelena Ostapenko to advance in straight sets
Jelena Ostapenko couldn’t keep the core of her offense strong enough to continue at the Volvo Car Open. Madison Keys put together a late surge in the first set and never let the momentum get away from her to win 7-5, 6-2 at Volvo Car Stadium at the Family Circle Tennis Center. It was the second career win against the Latvian that got her back to the quarterfinals for a second straight year.
The met nearly three years ago with the American winning their only bout on the grass courts of Birmingham. With the situation coming on a similar surface, the players would be looking for dictation right at the first point. While there was some comfort for Ostapenko, she still found herself fighting an uphill battle.
The time, put in against Shelby Rogers on Wednesday, who almost cost her, but she found a way to play every opportunity left to her. Keys also went the distance in her match on the green clay, winning a close one against Tatjana Maria. With both clearly able to endure long moments on court, the match between the two would be highly competitive.
Keys was broken in the first as Ostapenko forced a late point before consolidating it with a hold in the second blanking the American. She got on the board with a solid service game before the deficit returned in favor of the Latvian. The eighth seed stayed within a game after five as she vied for a key break to make the lead change. Keys continued with it for two more games until Ostapenko though it best to speak with her mother and coach Jelena Jakovleva.
After the conversation was done, the 21-year-old returned to court with new balls but failed to secure herself a tie with Keys. She managed to break back but the lead was still in the hands of the eighth seed who took a 5-4 hold. The tenth-seeded Latvian knew how to deal with the problem and answered back with a key hold to level at five-all.
The comeback wasn’t meant to be for the Latvian as Keys found enough strength to contain her opponent on serve and earn a clean break that gave her the 7-5 win for the set that took 44 minutes to finish.
Keys continued her winning ways, adding a third straight to start the second set. Ostapenko double-faulted for the first time in the match which in turn helped Keys to deuce in the second. Despite the early mistake she held serve to level early but knew she needed to match whatever Keys brought to the table. By the sixth, a break was in the hands of the 24-year-old doubling her lead on Ostapenko who gave enough room for the American to dictate.
She had a chance to go for the serve to love, but Ostapenko rallied to force deuce. She couldn’t get across the line for the break that gave Keys a 5-2 hold with the Latvian under fire.
The 21-year-old called down her mother for help but the work was ultimately hers to fix with the door knocking on a conclusion. Her first serve was getting into trouble with Keys answering everything she threw across court. The American reached match point where she sealed it on a sliced return to close the book after 1 hour and 17 minutes.
While it seemed like a lengthy battle, the American had the right stuff to go into Friday awaiting either American Sloane Stephens or Australian Ajla Tomljanovic.