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Barty vs Keys French Open live streaming, preview and tips - Barty sets sights on first major semi-final against powerful Keys

Andrew Hendrie in WTA Tour 6 Jun 2019
  • Ashleigh Barty vs Madison Keys is live from Roland Garros at 12.00pm local time on Thursday (11.00am BST)
  • Their head-to-head is level at 1-1, with Barty winning their last clash in Fed Cup on indoor hardcourts earlier this season
Ashleigh Barty (PA Images)

Ashleigh Barty attempts to make her first Grand Slam semi-final when she takes on last year’s semi-finalist Madison Keys in the French Open quarter-finals on Thursday.

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Eighth seed and Miami champion Ashleigh Barty comes up against the powerful Madison Keys for a place in the French Open semi-finals on Thursday.

Barty became the only player to reach the quarter-finals of both the Australian Open and Roland Garros on Monday as she took out rising star and Serena Williams’ conquerer Sofia Kenin in three sets. The Australian overcame a mid-match lapse to finish strongly against Kenin, blasting 11 aces and firing 28 winners to 17 unforced errors in a 6-3 3-6 6-0 triumph on Court Philippe-Chatrier. Earlier, Barty had cruised past Jessica Pegula, Danielle Collins and Andrea Petkovic in straight sets, but she was up to the challenge when facing her first bit of adversity in Paris, bouncing back from losing her first set of the tournament with a ‘bagel’ response. Her reward - a French Open rematch with Keys, who crushed her in straight sets two years ago in the second round.

"I played [Madison] here at the French Open a few years ago in a match I would love to forget," Barty said. "So I think it's very much a fresh, clean slate from this match, at Fed Cup that we had as well. Different surface. I mean, as different as you can probably get, indoor hard to an outdoor clay court.
"I think it's an amazing opportunity for me to go out there and try and play my brand of tennis again, and take it to her as much as I can. She's obviously had really good success here in the past."

A lot has changed since that match for Barty. Two years ago, the 23-year-old was still in the early stages of her comeback from tennis after a brief foray into professional cricket back in Australia, but after a gradual and patient rise over the last two years that saw her finish each season in the top 15 and win the season-ending Zhuhai championships at the end of 2018, Barty has taken her game to another level in 2019, surging into the top 10 as a result.

Barty is an outstanding 28-5 for the season so far, launching the year by finishing runner-up in Sydney and making her first Grand Slam semi-final at the Australian Open, where she was ousted by Petra Kvitova on both occasions, but she got her revenge over the Czech a couple of months later on her way to her biggest career title at the Miami Open, also toppling another Czech in Karolina Pliskova in the final. Barty was also instrumental in guiding Australia into the Fed Cup final, winning all of her singles and doubles matches against the USA (beating Keys) and Belarus in the quarters and semis, while she also made the Madrid quarter-finals, losing a tight match 7-5 7-5 to Simona Halep. Courtesy of her run in Paris, Barty will rise to at least No. 6 in the next WTA rankings - but can she reach a maiden major semi-final at Roland Garros?

Madison Keys (PA Images)
The powerful Keys stands in her way. The American is trying to advance into the French Open semi-finals for the second straight year after she did so in 2018 with wins over Naomi Osaka, Mihaela Buzarnescu and Yulia Putintseva before going down to compatriot Sloane Stephens. Despite winning just one match on European clay in the lead-up to Roland Garros, Keys has made it back to the quarter-finals in Paris, beating Evgeniya Rodina (who stunned her at Wimbledon), Priscilla Hon, Anna Blinkova and Katerina Siniakova, who had earlier eliminated top seed Osaka.

Keys has never really been a player to play a big schedule of tournaments (injuries have certainly contributed to this), but despite coming into a lot of Grand Slams cold and without match practice, she consistently manages to produce her best tennis from the get-go. From the start of 2015, Keys has only failed to make the second week four times in 18 tournaments, reaching her first major final at the 2017 U.S. Open, making semi-finals at the 2015 Australian Open, 2018 French Open and 2018 U.S. Open and quarter-finals at Wimbledon in 2015 and the Australian Open last year, while she also reached the second week at every slam during the 2016 season. Wrist and knee problems have plagued the 23-year-old over the course of the last two years, but Keys seemingly saves herself for the slams and she’s once again making an impact in Paris.

“It’s always a special and stressful experience every single time,” Keys said when asked about her consistency at slams. “I'm happy that I've gotten through to fourth rounds and quarterfinals now a couple times now. But it never, never feels routine.”

A champion on the green clay of Charleston a couple of months ago, can Keys return to the final four at Roland Garros? For me, she’s the slight favourite coming into this clash. Barty has been a revelation in 2019 and has been building towards these big Grand Slam runs for the last two years now, and if Keys is misfiring, she has the slice & dice game to frustrate her into numerous errors. However, I’m in the minority when I think clay suits Keys’ game just the same, if not more than grass - she has a better record at the French Open than Wimbledon, and that’s because the surface allows her more time to execute her big groundstrokes. Barty will need to keep the ball low and out of the American’s strike zone, but Keys is one of those players that can take the game away from players like Barty if she’s playing her best. It’s a tough match to predict, but I’m leaning on the side of Keys to blast her way to victory.

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Barty vs Keys French Open live streaming, preview and tips - Barty sets sights on first major semi-final against powerful Keys

Ashleigh Barty attempts to make her first Grand Slam semi-final when she takes on last year’s semi-finalist Madison Keys in the French Open quarter-finals on Thursday.

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