By Dave Gertler
(January 13, 2015) SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – Madison Keys has withdrawn from the Apia International in Sydney, surrendering from a set up against defending champion Tsvetana Pironkova. The mid-match withdrawal came on a day when the women’s draw lost its top seed Simona Halep, who withdrew before playing her first match, suffering from a gastrointestinal illness.
“I just hit a serve weird and it just kind of impinged on my shoulder a little bit,” said Keys, who had taken the first set 6-4 on Court 3, yet was trailing in the second set 1-4 before she pulled out, “Just didn’t want to push it too hard and end up getting worse.” Keys also stressed that she would be fit for the Australian Open, starting next week, saying that she immediately called her coach Lindsay Davenport to reassure her and say, “Don’t freak out. It’s fine. She understands. She played. She gets it. Said, good call. Let’s get it better, and we’ll do whatever we can to get ready.”
For Pironkova, the dream run in Sydney continues, stretching out her unbeaten record over the last two years to 13 matches, and she will face in-form Czech Barbora Zahlavova Strycova in the quarter-finals on Wednesday. The two most recently met on grass at Wimbledon in 2013, Pironkova winning on her way to the round of 16 that year.
Fourth seed Caroline Wozniacki’s withdrawing during her first-round match on Monday, and Agnieszka Radwanska, third seed, who lost a tight battle against Garbine Muguruza on Tuesday, means the only seed to make it through to the quarter-finals by Tuesday evening was Petra Kvitova, No.2 seed, who beat Shuai Peng in straight sets.
Radwanska, playing her first tournament with coach Martina Navratilova courtside, found herself leading Muguruza before the Spaniard switched gears, taking the next two sets 7-6, 6-2. “I played her two times before and I lost,” said Muguruza after her win, “I was like, OK, this time I want to win. I want to see what happens. For me to win this match, I feel like I improve a lot. When I play against her, I really have to concentrate and do my game, because she makes me play different styles and dropshots and long balls.”
“I think the best chance for me was winning in two sets,” said Radwanska, “In the tie-break, I think I just didn’t really go for it. She made a couple of good shots and it was over. But, well, it’s always a good sign. I have a couple days still before the Australian Open, so going to rest and prepare for that.”
Also through to the women’s quarter-finals on Tuesday’s matches were Karolina Pliskova who beat Nicole Gibbs – in for Simona Halep – 6-0, 6-0 in 38 minutes. Pliskova will play Carla Suarez Navarro who beat Ekaterina Makarova in a three-set match lasting over two hours. Garbine Muguruza will play either Angelique Kerber in her first quarter-final in Sydney, while Petra Kvitova will play Jarmila Gajdosova in what will be her third quarter-final in five appearances in Sydney.