For six months, on hard as on clay, Iga Swiatek was irreproachable. Having become No. 1 after the early retirement of Ashleigh Barty, the Pole notably won her second Roland-Garros, leaving the impression that tennis had found its new queen.
But after 37 straight wins, she looked mentally worn out. At Wimbledon, she yielded in the third round against Alizé Cornet. Since then, Swiatek is only a shadow of itself. Caroline Garcia (Warsaw) and Beatriz Haddad Maia (Toronto) have stepped into the breach in recent weeks. In Cincinnati, Madison Keys took advantage.
Keys returned to perfection
Faced with a Swiatek without juice, the American knew how to play on her strengths. We had to wait until the end of the second set to see her jostled on her services. But throughout the match, she was able to return to perfection by depriving Swiatek of a few seconds of reaction and therefore neutralizing her attacking game, immediately placing her on the defensive.
Led 6-3, 5-0, Swiatek was violent in saving a first match point. Necessarily nervous, Keys let his opponent come back to 5-4. But a very bad last play by Swiatek put an end to all his hopes of a comeback. Led 0-40 by a Keys who had regained her efficiency in returns, she saved a third match point. But the fourth was too many.
Keys, a semi-finalist at the Australian Open this season, will face Elena Rybakina, the winner of the last Wimbledon, for a place in the last four.