American rising star Madison Keys may have defeated hometown hero Heather Watson in the first round 6-3, 7-5, but she's gathering support during this Wimbledon. The 18-year-old extended her Wimbledon debut to at least the third round by defeating Mona Barthel, the No. 30 seed, 6-4, 6-2 in exactly an hour.
“A couple games got a little bit close, but I was able to pull out a serve or two to get me back in the game.” said Keys, whose game is suited to grass. “I just like how big serves and big forehands are rewarded. I think it's just different than other surfaces.”
Although Barthel opened with a quick love game, as the match progressed she had difficulty matching the power of Keys’ groundstrokes and serve. But in her first service game, Barthel struck an ace for 40-30 and a forehand winner to level.
In the third game, Keys began to put pressure on the German’s serve, getting to deuce and earning her first break point with a slew of penetrating strokes. Barthel, however, erased Keys’ opportunity for the early break. She successfully held with an unreturnable serve of her own struck out wide minutes later.
But in the sixth game she earned her second break point opportunity. The American, however, couldn’t capitalise at first and missed a backhand return as Barthel jammed her out wide.
There were four more deuces before Keys was rewarded with her second break point chance. A forehand winner cross-court consolidated the opportunity and the 3-2 lead. She then held to love for 4-2.
At 5-3, and trying to earn a one-set lead, Keys couldn’t handle the form of Barthel, who hit a winner down the line.
On serve at 5-4, Keys took a couple points and looked to poised for the set. Barthel, though, had different plans as she began moving the young American side-to-side for momentary success. A big serve looked to give the American a set point, but a mistimed forehand erased that chance and allowed the German a break point of her own.
Keys seemed to find her concentration again after that temporary lapse. A serve brought deuce and a mishit return gave Keys the set point. A forehand into the net from Barthel sealed the deal in 34 minutes.
Although Keys started the second set with another break point chance, she failed to convert as Barthel profited from errors and hit a backhand winner for added insult.
After holding for 1-1, Keys quickly went up 40-15 on her opponent’s serve through a combination of blistering winners and errors. She took the break with a forehand cross-court winner struck from the middle of the court for 2-1. She held quickly in the next game for 3-1.
At 4-2 down, Barthel was struggling, missing routine shots and being blasted off the court continually by the 18-year old. She went down 0-40, but benefitted from Keys’ errors to get to deuce. A mistimed slice backhand, however, gave Keys another break point chance, which she clinched on a Barthel backhand into the net.
Serving for the match, Keys began the game with two serves that went unreturned for 30-0. Another unforced error off the German’s racket gave her match point, secured by a big serve.
Keys could now face last year’s Wimbledon runner-up Agnieszka Radwanska, the No. 4 seed.
20:24...But boy, it was a barrow-load of fun. I hope you enjoyed it even half as much as we did. Thank you for all your messages throughout, you've been the glue holding us together as the edges frayed amid the madness. Now if you'll excuse me, it's time for us Brits to raise a toast to Andy Murray and Fred Perry. British sporting legends both.
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