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Reset and match: Keys stuns Krejcikova to book her fifth Slam semi

  • Dan Imhoff

Madison Keys will return to the Australian Open semifinals for the first time in seven years after derailing Roland Garros champion Barbora Krejcikova on Tuesday.

MORE: Women's singles results AO 2022

Sleepless nights obsessing over results had the former world No.7 at breaking point, having notched just 11 wins last season.

She had already racked up 11 straight wins in 2022 before January was out after her 6-3 6-2 triumph over the fourth seed.

"I think I'm going to cry," Keys said. "It means a lot and last year was really hard. I did everything that I could with my team to just really reset this off-season and focus on starting fresh and new, really just starting from zero and not worrying about last year.

"Wow, that's gone well so far. I'm really proud of myself. So thankful to my team, my friends and my family for helping me through what was a really tough year last year."

Madison Keys: the world No.51 can do no wrong

Keys was left devastated after she tested positive to Covid-19 on the eve of her scheduled flight to last year's Australian Open.

It was the beginning of a rather forgettable year, by the 26-year-old's measure.

MORE: Women's singles draw AO 2022

Keys arrived in Adelaide a fortnight ago as the world No.87, but a title run and a return to her first major semifinal since the 2018 US Open had set a last-four showdown with top seed Ash Barty or compatriot Jessica Pegula.

"I honestly feel pretty neutral, to be completely honest with you," Keys said. "I have gone into every match thinking I can absolutely win any match that I'm out on the court. 

"I will say it's been kind of nice to be the underdog for the first time in a long time. It's really just not even in my head about winning and losing. It's really just going out, competing, trying to do what the game plan is.

"If that's not working, going to plan B. The rest is kind of not even getting into my brain."

Krejcikova had enjoyed a polar-opposite season to her conqueror, after she stormed to her maiden Grand Slam trophy in Paris and added titles in Strasbourg and Prague.

The Czech, too, had started the new season on song with a runner-up finish in Sydney leading in.

But after taking down fellow major champions Jelena Ostapenko and Victoria Azarenka back-to-back, she never found her range in the quarterfinals.

Krejcikova just couldn't find her range

While both had chances early, the American finally broke on a nine-minute game for 4-2 when Krejcikova rolled a forehand wide.

The Czech was visibly wilting in the heat while her opponent was right at home – a result she said of having grown up in the stifling humidity of Florida.

Keys was soaring. She sealed the 50-minute first set on her ninth ace and landed an early blow against an out-of-sorts opponent with a break in the opening game of the second.

As the match ticked over one hour, Krejcikova was struggling to find the court, her typically measured placement awry as she sprayed balls every which way.

She had found herself in a similar predicament already this tournament, down a set and a break down against Ostapenko, and managed to peg back a break.

But Keys only relinquished control momentarily as an eighth forehand return winner secured the insurance break.

The American never faltered and after she served out the contest in 87 minutes she paid tribute to her coach, Georgi Rumenov, and support team.

"In tight moments when I look over they all have very good poker faces," Keys said. "They're always there supporting, whether it's a good point or a bad point, it's always focus on the next one.

"Even in bad moments, it's fine, we're a team, we're going to get though this, we're going to work through it, we'll figure it out.

"To have that every single time you look up is really important and I'm very thankful for them."