Early in her fourth round match against Olga Govortsova at Wimbledon 2015, I was worried about my favorite player, Madison Keys. She has a game tailor-made for grass, in terms of weapons like her huge serve, powerful groundstrokes and movement. But she’s still a young developing player learning how to put all of those gifts together. After dropping the first set to Govortsova, I thought it might be another early career hiccup for Maddie. But she showed savvy veteran skill from there on, winning when not playing her A game. She stayed close in the second set, fought back to tie it at a set apiece and won going away in the third, 3-6 6-4 6-1. In fact, Keys won the final 6 games of the match to book a spot in what I believe will be the first of many quarterfinal appearances at Wimbledon. She will get a very stiff test as she faces her first seeded player in #13 Agnieszka Radwanska. Aga just came off a runner-up finish on grass at the Aegon International and is a former Wimbledon finalist, taking Serena to 3 sets in 2012. I’d be lying if I didn’t say Radwanska is the favorite going into this match if current form holds. However, if Maddie finds that form that she showed in her semifinal run at the Australian Open, she definitely can pull the upset. Regardless of what happens, given another season of development, Keys beating Radwanska might not be considered an upset in the near future.
Another surprise American joining Madison in the quarters is Coco Vandeweghe. She has looked awesome so far, going through #11 Karolina Pliskova, #22 Samantha Stosur and now, #6 Lucie Safarova, the runner-up at Roland Garros. Coco showed a lot of heart and steely nerves pulling out two tie-breaks to oust Safarova, 7-6 (1) 7-6 (4). She looks like she can beat anybody right now. Vandeweghe will need to continue that level of play as she takes on former Wimbledon champion and 4-time Major winner, Maria Sharapova. And to round out the trio of Americans among the final 8 in the quarters, Serena Williams was almost clinical in beating sister Venus, 6-4 6-3. It was the best Serena has looked all tournament. In fact, it’s the best she’s looked in a few tournaments. Up next is a player who actually competes with Serena, Victoria Azarenka. This could be the de facto final for Serena. If there is one player who could upset Williams, it’s Vika. If Serena wins, I doubt anybody else in the draw will stop her. On the other hand, if Vika wins, I think there are some players who could still beat her. I just don’t know if anybody left in the draw save for Vika truly believes she can win against Serena, whereas if Azarenka advances players like Sharapova don’t have a decade plus losing streak against her.
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1 SERENA WILLIAMS (won 6-4 6-3 vs 16 Venus Williams)
4 MARIA SHARAPOVA (won 6-4 6-4 vs Zarina Diyas)
20 GARBINE MUGURUZA (won 6-4 6-4 vs 5 Caroline Wozniacki)
COCO VANDEWEGHE (won 7-6 (1) 7-6 (4) vs 6 Lucie Safarova)
21 MADISON KEYS (won 3-6 6-4 6-1 vs Olga Govortsova)