Adelaide champion Madison Keys booked her place in an eighth Grand Slam quarter-final with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Sydney titlist Paula Badosa to kick off a busy day of action where multiple seeds fell, including Maria Sakkari  and a worryingly off-colour Alexander Zverev .
Keys powers past badosa, whose sloppy serving proves decisive
Keys bt. Badosa  6-3, 6-1
For the first time in two-and-a-half years, 2017 US Open runner-up Madison Keys is into the quarter-finals of a Major tournament. Can she continue her red-hot form this coming week?
At the 2019 French Open, she lost 6-3, 7-5 to eventual champion Ashleigh Barty – but will be hoping there’s no repeat and knows the pressure isn’t on her either against Barbora Krejcikova on Tuesday after the pair recorded straight-set victories back-to-back on Rod Laver Arena.
The American was first up to start the day session and never truly relinquished an ever-increasing lead after breaking Badosa early in set one. The Spaniard, who was alarmingly weary at times in her third-round win over Marta Kostyuk, started sluggishly and never recovered.
Badosa frequently had to save break points on serve (11/16, 6/7 in set one) and her serving struggles were exacerbated as the match went long by a player of Keys’ capabilities.
So after they exchanged breaks of serve, at 1-1 to start set two, it proved a false dawn.
The 24-year-old was broken four consecutive times en route to a rather comprehensive final scoreline, but Keys (26 winners, 18 unforced errors) was largely the reason for that. Just outgunned.
Krejcikova, who spoke about her admiration for Azarenka in press earlier this week, didn’t let the Belarusian’s injury struggles distract her here.
Instead, she hit six aces – to Azarenka’s six double-faults – and produced an imperious display on first serve points played (26/30), making the two-time Australian Open champion miss frequently and become uncomfortable as her unforced error count increased (28, to Krejcikova’s 12).
Azarenka received medical treatment to the left side of her neck and shoulder early in set two, while requiring regular trainer assistance at changeovers. None of that fazed the Czech though.
“It was really amazing because she’s a champion here, I have a lot of respect for, and really admire her. I was really preparing for this, actually for a dream like this to play on such a court and play a champion.”
Having never previously surpassed round two at this tournament, the reigning Roland Garros champion has an even trickier task next – inflict Keys’ second defeat of 2022 (10-1).
quarter-final set: nadal vs. shapovalov after straight-set wins
Nadal  bt. Mannarino 7-6 (16-14), 6-2, 6-2
After a 28-minute first set tiebreaker, the longest of Nadal’s career, the Spaniard had plenty to pump his fists about after doing enough to emerge unscathed against Mannarino in three sets.
Having committed 13 unforced errors in set one, the 20-time Grand Slam winner predictably cleaned up his ball-striking as things wore on – just nine over the next two sets – while putting together 25 winners and nine aces to help him overcome Mannarino comfortably by the end.
He’ll play Denis Shapovalov  in an intriguing quarter-final clash on Tuesday, after the unpredictable Canadian – a Wimbledon semi-finalist last year – saved two break points in the match’s first game before eventually pouncing on a ponderous Zverev display (6-3, 7-6, 6-3).
With a 3-2 H2H record in the Spaniard’s favour, he lost their most recent matchup – an Abu Dhabi exhibition – but hasn’t faced him in a best-of-five match format to date.
“Love to start my season in Australia, have had some tough draws but happy to pull through and win today.
I’m really happy with where my game was at, feeling my shots off both wings and played pretty smart. Things were going my way early on, lost momentum in the second set but came back and rolled with it. Always an honour to play Rafa, gonna be tough but I’ll enjoy it.”
Another first-time Australian Open quarter-finalist here, Shapovalov can play without pressure against an injury-prone Nadal who has been tested in stages at this tournament so far – against Karen Khachanov in R3 and at times vs. Mannarino – but will be bullish about his chances.
Berrettini vs. Monfils after Italian makes history
- Wimbledon finalist Berrettini is 10th active male player to reach QF in all four Slams
- Also becomes first male player born in the 1990s to achieve the feat
- Seventh seed overcomes Olympic bronze medallist Pablo Carreno Busta 7-5, 7-6, 6-4
After a shaky start, not least with lingering injury concerns still present, Berrettini has played his way into form so far this tournament and should fancy his chances after passing tests aplenty.
An entertaining five-set tussle with Alcaraz lived up to the billing, and he didn’t allow the youngster’s compatriot an opportunity to create doubt after finishing set one strongly, breaking the 30-year-old to love at 5-5 before saving a break point and seizing the set two points later.
After logging 52 aces in his first three rounds, the 25-year-old fired off another 28 here during a fast-paced outing which didn’t last long – in terms of drawn out games or total duration (2h24m).
He was one winner off doubling Carreno Busta’s tally throughout (57 to 29), had three less winners (27 to 30) and despite being pushed into a set two tiebreak, sprinted to the finish line from 2-2 in the breaker: winning four straight points to present the same amount of set points.
He’ll play French showman Gael Monfils, who beat Miomir Kecmanovic (7-5, 7-6, 6-3) to book his place in a first Grand Slam quarter-final since the 2019 US Open – his second in Melbourne.
In 2016, he lost to now-injured Canadian Milos Raonic, one of the notable names missing from this Major. The 35-year-old will fancy his chances, although the Italian has won both their previous H2H meetings, including a comeback five-set win at Flushing Meadows three years ago.
Barty vs. Pegula after anisimova and Sakkari sent packing
Barty  bt. Anisimova 6-4, 6-3
The world no. 1 ousted Naomi Osaka’s conqueror Amanda Anisimova in straight-sets, but needed to save four break points – two in each set – showing composure in avoiding a potentially precarious situation against a bullish young American with nothing to lose and plenty to gain.
The 20-year-old’s excellent ball-striking posed questions of Barty’s defence but just like against the Japanese, her unforced error count (34) was too high to ignore on an evening of fine margins – facing too many break points for comfort against an in-form Australian with the crowd on side.
“The last two years have been extraordinarily tough for us, having the crowd here is a lot more fun – especially at home – sharing it with everyone else.
She [Amanda] is an incredible athlete and competitor, nice to see her back playing, was nice to hold firm and bring the points back into my patterns, the big ones where it mattered most. [Good omen for the title?] We’ll see, hey?”
She’ll play one of three Americans left in the women’s draw, in Jessica Pegula  after a big 7-6, 6-3 win over US Open semi-finalist Maria Sakkari. As a result, Pegula has reached the Australian Open quarters for the second successive season and Barty is looking forward to it:
“Jess was on fire, really controlled the baseline and put Maria under the pump, fought out some tough games and it’s gonna be an awesome battle.”
I’ll be producing daily round-ups with the latest results, game reports and news at this year’s Australian Open, so make sure you stay tuned to moandsports.com for the latest coverage.
Picture source: Getty Images