Madison Keys eases into third round with Jaqeuline Christian win

Victoria Azarenka also progresses; Top seed Ash Barty drops just two games in brutal win

Madison Keys stormed into the third round of the Australian Open with a 6-2 7-5 win over Jaqueline Cristian on Wednesday as the American continued her resurgence after a year in which she sank into a "dark pit of despair" and her ranking plummeted.

The former US Open finalist warmed up for the opening Grand Slam of the year with her first title since 2019 at the Adelaide WTA tournament last week and knocked out 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin in her opener on Monday.

The former world number seven, who slipped to 87th in the rankings following a disappointing 2021, is aiming to improve on her semi-final finish at Melbourne Park seven years ago.

The American ran away with the opening set in 31 minutes and broke unseeded Romanian Cristian for a 6-5 lead in the next to seal the win that set up a clash with Wang Qiang after the Chinese player beat Alison Van Uytvanck 2-6 7-6(5) 6-3.

Keys, who missed the 2021 Australian Open due to Covid, had said after her match with Kenin that she had fond memories of her deep run at the major and hoped to have another.

She added that not taking things too seriously and avoiding putting pressure on herself had helped in her resurgence, while social media had also played a part.

“One of the first things that made me snap out of it was this girl on TikTok. Her name is ‘Tinx’. She’s constantly saying ‘comparison is the thief of joy’,” Keys said on Monday.

“It really made me change my perspective on comparing everything I’ve done and doing to everyone around me. It was just making me miserable.”

Elsewhere, seventh seed Matteo Berrettini overcame a minor hiccup in the second set to move into the third round with a 6-1 4-6 6-4 6-1 win over American Stefan Kozlov.

The Italian will next face 18-year-old Carlos Alcaraz, who became the youngest man to reach the third round at Melbourne Park since Bernard Tomic in 2011.

Top seed Ash Barty used her powerful forehand and delicate slices to devastating effect in a 6-1 6-1 win over Grand Slam debutant Lucia Bronzetti in 52 minutes.

Earlier, 15th seed Elina Svitolina advanced when Harmony Tan retired from their match with a knee issue and left the court in a wheelchair. Tan was down 6-3 5-7 5-1 when she got injured.

Camila Giorgi reached the third round at Melbourne for the fourth time with a 6-2 7-6(2) win over Tereza Martincova.

Twice former Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka and Spanish eighth seed Paula Badosa were the first players into the third round at Melbourne Park.

Azarenka, the 2012 and 2013 champion, sealed a 6-1 6-2 victory over Swiss Jil Teichmann with a backhand winner, while Badosa firmed as a dark horse for the title with an equally dominant 6-0 6-3 win over Martina Trevisan on Rod Laver Arena.

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