(1) Serena Williams vs Madison Keys
Serena Williams’ quest for an elusive sixth Australian Open title continues on Thursday when she comes up against Madison Keys In the second semi-final on Rod Laver Arena. In an ominous sign for Keys, every single time Serena has reached the semi-final stage in Melbourne she has gone on to win the tournament. That record looks like continuing this week.
The world number 1 has improved match by match in Melbourne. After some sluggish early round performances where she was slow to get going, Serena has really stepped things up in her last two matches.
Serena advanced to the semi-finals with a comprehensive 6-2 6-2 victory over an in form Dominika Cibulkova. Serena absolutely blasted Domi off the court in what was her best performance of the tournament thus far. The biggest positive for Serena was the effectiveness of her serve, blasting 15 aces past the Slovakian. Serena also returned well, dominating Dominika’s weak second serve.
If Serena produces a similar performance in the semi-finals she will be extremely difficult to compete with. However, her opponent on Thursday has some big weapons of her own.
Madison Keys advanced to her first career semi-final with a hard fought 6-4 3-6 6-3 victory over Venus Williams. Madison became the third 19 year old in a row to reach the Semi-Finals in Melbourne, emulating Sloane Stephens and Eugenie Bouchard’s runs to the final four in the past couple of years. The powerful American will be looking to go a couple of steps further.
Madison’s composure under pressure has been extremely impressive this week, notably in her clinical third round victory over Petra Kvitova and in her battling victory over Venus Williams. Despite coming close to pulling a muscle in the second set and requiring a medical time out, Keys rebounded well.
When Keys returned to the court after a medical timeout, her movement and service pace were restricted. Nevertheless, Keys managed to twice come from a break down in the deciding set to reach her first Grand Slam semi-final.
Keys will certainly come into this match under an injury cloud, Serena has also had some health issues this week. The world number one has been dealing with a nasty virus, however it doesn’t seem to be effecting her on court performance.
This will be the first career meeting between Madison Keys and Serena Williams. It will be interesting to see how the youngster deals with the occasion, in what is undoubtedly the biggest match of her career. She comes up against a formidable opponent, desperate to succeed.
This should be a straightforward victory for Serena, it’s extremely difficult to see an injury hampered Keys take it up to an almighty force. Serena is too experienced to falter at this stage.
Prediction: Serena Williams to defeat Madison Keys in straight sets