The quarterfinal matches Wednesday night at the Australian Open were a little more interesting than the previous matches. Serena Williams fought through a terrible illness while Novak Djokovic continued his dominance.
American teenager Madison Keys defeated No. 18 Venus Williams to reach her first Grand Slam final. The 19-year-old overcame an injury in the middle of the second set to win the three set match.
Unfortunately, Williams appeared tired and slow, but it does not take away from Keys’ outstanding play. She was down 1-4 in the second set when she took a medical timeout. Williams won the set, but Keys returned to top form in the third set. Keys hit 34 winners compared to only 10 hit by Williams. She broke Williams seven times and capitalized on Williams’ weak second serve.
“It’s amazing, you just have to embrace the moment,” exclaimed Keys after the match. “And I get to enjoy another moment next round.”
Keys will face Williams’s sister Serena after she glided through to the semifinals with a 6-2, 6-2 win over No. 11 Dominika Cibulkova. The world’s top player battled through a cold in her win over Gabine Muguruza and did not appear any better in this match. It did not stop her as she controlled the match from start to finish. She hit 15 aces and 31 winners as Cubulkova struggled to keep up. Williams could barely speak afterwards.
“I’ve felt better, but I’m feeling OK. I’m just happy to still be in the tournament,” said Williams. “I’ve been sick the past few days. It’s just getting worse and worse. But hopefully it will start getting better. I heard it’s a virus going around with a lot of the players. I think I caught it.”
Defending champion No. 4 Stan Wawrinka defeated No. 5 Kei Nishikori, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(8-6). Wawrinka controlled the first two sets, but slightly struggled against Nishikori in the third. He went up 6-1 in the tiebreak, but Nishikori fought off five match points. Wawrinka won on the sixth match point with a perfect ace.
“Phew, I’m still nervous,” said Wawrinka. “It’s never easy with his returning. You have to go for it.”
Novak Djokovic demonstrated why he is the favorite as he crushed No. 8 Milos Raonic 7-6(7-5), 6-4, 6-2. The match looks close on paper, but the action on the court showcased Djokovic’s authority. He broke his good friend three rimes, won 94% of his net points, and hit only 17 unforced errors. Next is Wawrinka, who defeated Djokovic in the semi-finals last year.
“It was a great performance, definitely no complaints,” he said. “I returned very well; I tried to get many balls back in play to have a good chance from back of the court. Some games I just had to let it go and wait for the opportunity that presented and try to to use them.”