by Kevin Craig
Madison Keys fought her way into the fourth round at the Australian Open amidst difficult circumstances. In the only women’s match that went three sets on Saturday, the American defeated the No. 20 seed Ana Ivanovic 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, but not before the match had to be delayed for an hour as Ivanovic’s coach collapsed and had to be taken to the hospital.
The first set was very straightforward as both players were able to handle their serves well. At 3-3, Keys was the first to create an opportunity on return as she saw two break chances in a game that lasted 14 points. Ivanovic, who only lost three points in her four other service games in the first set, was able to fight through the adversity of that game to hold and then create three break chances of her own at 5-4. Ivanovic only needed the first opportunity though, as she broke at love to close out the first set winning eight straight points.
It was early in the second set when Ivanovic’s coach, Nigel Sears, collapsed inside Rod Laver Arena. Sears, who is also the father-in-law of Andy Murray, had not been feeling well throughout the match and attempted to leave the stadium, but on his way up the stairs, Sears reportedly collapsed and required immediate medical attention. It was reported by Ben Rothenburg, before play had even resumed, that Sears was “alert and responding.”
Once the delay had ended and the players returned to the court, Ivanovic fought off the distraction to go up a break at 2-0 on her fourth break point of the game. Keys quickly fought back to get back on serve at 2-1, though, before each player went on to hold at love. With Ivanovic up 3-2 on serve, she was able to once again break the American but was unable to consolidate as Keys broke straight back. At 4-4, Keys broke for the third time in the set to go up 5-4 and was able to hold her serve after a very difficult fight from Ivanovic that saw six break points and 18 points total.
The momentum did not completely shift to Keys’ side of the net despite levelling the match at one set apiece, as Ivanovic broke in Keys’ first service game of the third set to go up 2-0, just like in the second set. The Serb was able to hold onto the lead until her 3-1 service game that saw her save four break points before Keys broke on the fifth to get back on serve. Keys then held a tough deuce game before breaking Ivanovic again to go up a break. It was no looking back from there for the No. 15 seed as she closed out the match with an impressive hold.
Keys, who made the semifinals of the Australian Open in 2015, is now only two wins away from repeating that result as she will face Zhang Shuai in the fourth round and either Johanna Konta or Ekaterina Makarova in the quarterfinals, should she get there. Keys showed her fighting spirit on Saturday as she was able to come back from a break down three times and overcame hitting more than double the unforced errors compared to her opponent, and will hope that her momentum carries into the next rounds.