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French Open: Kudermetova reaches first Grand Slam quarterfinal with win over Keys

Paris, May 30 (IANS) Veronika Kudermetova reached the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time with a 1-6, 6-3, 6-1 victory over Madison Keys here on Monday.

With this win Kudermetova ended the chances of four American women reaching the last eight at the French Open for the first time in two decades.

The 25-year-old Russian now will contest her maiden Grand Slam singles quarterfinal, against Daria Kasatkina, who defeated No.28 seed Camila Giorgi of Italy 6-2, 6-2 in 1 hour and 20 minutes.

In a first meeting on red clay between the two former champions of Charleston, the 29th seed absorbed the American Keys’ blustery blows with greater consistency to turn the contest on its head 1-6, 6-3, 6-1.

Kudermetova had enjoyed a smoother path to the second week, thanks largely to the mid-match retirement of third seed Paula Badosa in the previous round.

Her subsequent triumph over Elena Rybakina in a third-set tiebreak was a reminder how damaging she could be on any surface when firing on all cylinders and finding her range.

A free-swinging Keys is renowned for generating more than a few headaches when her formidable, heavy strikes are on song. Something had to give if Kudermetova was to avoid a blowout after a lop-sided 33-minute opening set.

Her opponent was clocking more than three times the winners and was infinitely more effective at landing and winning her first serves, dropping just three points when she found the mark.

The match was largely a tale of two one-sided sets. Keys started on fire, winning 81 per cent of first-serve points to the 25-year-old’s 58 per cent in the first set, while neither one more than two points on their second deliveries.

Both found their range on serve in the second set before Kudermetova’s marked improvement on service returns dealt a critical blow in the third. She claimed 67 per cent of receiving points in the final set to Keys’ 41 per cent and converted four of five break points.

“I tried to trust myself. I tried to believe. I tried to fight, I think that was the key,” Kudermetova said. “Sometimes to keep playing harder or sometimes to play with spin, a little bit smarter. I think I did a really good job today. It’s amazing, it’s amazing. I can only say this.”

–IANS

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