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KEYS BACK FROM THE BRINK IN STRASBOURG

2015-5-21


STRASBOURG, France - WTA Rising Star Madison Keys staged a remarkable comeback to squeak past Mirjana Lucic-Baroni and into the quarterfinals of the Internationaux de Strasbourg.

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Trailing by a set and 5-0, Keys looked ready to pack her bags for Paris. However, despite the bleakness of the situation, the top seed never gave up hope.

And with each passing game that Lucic-Baroni failed to close out the match, this hope grew. Slowly but surely, the swagger and shotmaking so synonymous with Keys' game began to return. At 5-4, now brimming with confidence, she unleashed a couple of blistering backhands to pierce the swirling winds and complete an imperious service hold.

Mindful of the tricky conditions, the subsequent tie-break saw a change of tact from Keys, who abandoned her usual aggression in favor of a more conservative approach. The decision paid dividends as a string of errors from an increasingly frazzled Lucic-Baroni allowed her to force an improbable third set.

There was still time for more drama in the decider. At 5-4, Lucic-Baroni failed to serve out the match for a third time, coming within two points of victory only to see a couple of forehands flash past her. The Croat regrouped to reach the tie-break, but the writing was on the wall as Keys finally closed out the contest, 4-6, 7-6(3), 7-6(0).

"I was definitely thinking that I would be heading to Paris," Keys said. "Mirjana was playing well and I wasn't playing great, and I was just really happy that I was able to find it and figure it out.

"For sure my mental toughness was important. Even at 5-0 I was trying hard and putting in all of my effort. My game was there, it was just a couple of points here or there that hadn't been going my way. It was a battle to the very, very end, and I'm very relieved with this victory. Hopefully I can build on it and play better tomorrow."

Meeting her then will be fellow WTA Rising Star Kristina Mladenovic, a 7-6(4), 6-2 winner over Alison Riske. Also advancing in the top half was Elena Vesnina, after she came out on top in a topsy-turvy encounter with No.4 seed Alizé Cornet, 3-6, 6-0, 6-3.



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