There will be four American women advancing to the fourth round of the 2015 Australian Open. Two of them are named Williams, which should surprise nobody. However, the other two are named Madison. I’ve been banging the drum for Madison Keys ever since I saw her at the 2011 US Open as a 16-year old bursting with talent, armed with an unteachable bazooka serve. Last year, she broke through for her first WTA singles title at the 2014 Aegon International. She hasn’t won the the title here…yet…but beating #4 Petra Kvitova might be just as significant a win as the Aegon final. Petra is one of the very best on tour, a 2-time and reigning Wimbledon champion who was playing well down under. To take her out 6-4 7-5 is very impressive, especially considering the growing maturity in her game. When I’ve watched Madison before, she has had the big serve and big ground strokes, but lacked patience in building points. She often would try to paint a line too early in a rally. Against Petra, she worked the point and waited for the right moment to pull the trigger on a big shot. She hits so hard that she doesn’t need to always try to go for small margins. Hit the ball crosscourt over the lowest point in the net and make the opponent play. Madison brought on Hall of Fame superstar Lindsay Davenport as a coach. It definitely looks like Lindsay is shaping Madison’s raw talent into wise tactics. I think it’s a perfect player-coach fit. Even before they joined forces, Madison’s game reminded me of Lindsay’s. The result so far is Madison Keys in her first ever fourth round and second week of a Major.
It will be an all-American, all-Madison fourth round match as Keys will face Madison Brengle. It has been a tremendous start of the year for Madison Brengle. The 24-year old Brengle was a surprise finalist at the Hobart International. Although Heather Watson would take the crown there, it was a possible announcement of a rising American star. Sure, Brengle was a finalist at the 2007 Australian Open in the junior division, but that was a long time ago (in tennis years) and it was juniors. So I wanted to see how Brengle would follow up the Hobart final. Would she keep playing well or fade back into the field. So far, she has maintained that high level. She started her run in Melbourne by upsetting the #13 seed, Andrea Petkovic. She followed that up by besting two fellow Americans, Irina Falconi and Coco Vandeweghe. I am actually a bit miffed that there have been so many American vs American matches. Coco has been playing very well, worthy of still being in the tournament. And now the Madison vs Madison fourth round match will eliminate another American. But that’s the luck of the draw. I should be happy so many Americans are still around to play each other. By seeding, this fourth round match was supposed to be #4 Kvitova vs #13 Petkovic. Petra is one of my top two c0-favorites, along with Simona Halep, but I have also said that is dependent on the progress that Madison Keys makes. Although Petra lost much earlier than I would like, I was not at all sad to see Keys win. I might have to go with three co-favorite players. Getting back to Madison Brengle, it’s also just great to see her out there playing after having a cancerous spot in her knee removed last year. She also had a mass in her jaw but that luckily proved to be benign. The doctors cleared her to come to Australia just a few weeks before Brisbane. There was a chance she wouldn’t even be here playing. The most important thing is for her to have a long and healthy life. I just wish that for her. Anything tennis-wise beyond that is a bonus and a blessing.
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MADISON KEYS (won 6-4 7-5 vs Petra Kvitova)
MADISON BRENGLE (won 6-3 6-2 vs Coco Vandeweghe)
1 SERENA WILLIAMS (won 4-6 6-2 6-0 vs Elina Svitolina)
6 AGNIESZKA RADWANSKA (won 6-0 7-5 vs 30 Varvara Lepchenko)
VICTORIA AZARENKA (won 6-4 6-4 vs 25 Barbora Zahlavova Strycova)