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08 June 2018, 10:39 | Anna Jefferson
French Open 2018: Madison Keys beats Yulia Putintseva to reach semi-finals
The 23-year-old American beat Kazakhstan's Yulia Putintseva 7-6 (5) 6-4 in her first quarter-final match at Roland Garros to set up a meeting with friend and U.S. Open final tormentor Sloane Stephens, showing great progress on clay.
Sloane Stephens, who won her first Slam previous year at the US Open, has struggled since to replicate the form of her late summer successes. Her forehand is her biggest weapon off the ground, and whilst her large take back can cause her problems on faster court surfaces, on clay where she is afforded more time she is able to confidently and consistently dictate with it.
Two-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber reached the quarterfinals of the French Open for the second time by beating Caroline Garcia 6-2, 6-3. However, the 13th seed was unable to make anything of her two opportunities, and Stephens proceeded to break in the next game, consolidating for a 3-1 lead in the first set.
Sloane Stephens of the U.S. celebrates after beating Madison Keys in their semi-final match on day twelve of The Roland Garros 2018 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on June 7, 2018. It's just how it's happened for me", Stephens said, "I think once I get going in a tournament, I'm pretty consistent, which is good.
Like Halep, Stephens is an incredibly talented defensive player, and she kept stretching points Thursday until Keys would err. This year, she was two points from defeat in the third round against Camila Giorgi of Italy before turning that match around.
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Play stayed on serve in the third set until Nishikori won the only break point, on Thiem's serve in the 12th game. "It's go time. Until then, we're the same girls as always". There is reason why she's in the finals. Her start to the 2018 season was blighted by inconsistency and poor form which resulted in first round defeats in Sydney and Melbourne.
"I'm definitely liking the clay a little bit more now that I have made a semi-final here", said Keys after the match. And then when we get on the court, it's time to compete. It is the first French Open semifinal between a pair of women from the United States since Serena Williams beat Jennifer Capriati on the way to the 2002 title.
In the other half of the draw, two-time champion Maria Sharapova will meet 2016 victor Garbine Muguruza on Wednesday, while world No. 1 Simona Halep takes on double Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber. I was close to quit this sport.
Not only that but neither had ever been beyond the last 16 of the French Open before this year.
Now comes challenge of taking on Nadal at Roland Garros.
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