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Keys leads five Americans into third round on Australian Open Day 4

January 21, 2016 09:37 AM

By Ashley Marsahll, USTA.com

Madison Keys was one of five Americans to book their place in the third round of the Australian Open on Day 4, giving Team USA a tournament-high seven players competing in the round of 32.

No. 15 seed Keys (pictured above) battled from a set down Thursday to defeat Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan, 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-3, in a close encounter that lasted two hours and two minutes. The hard-hitting Keys dictated the majority of the points, cracking 34 winners to her opponent’s 16, but also committing 32 errors, half of those coming in the 51-minute first set alone.

The 20-year-old will now face No. 20 seed Ana Ivanovic on Friday. Should Keys win that encounter – just the second meeting between them after the Serb beat Keys on the red clay of Madrid in 2014 – the draw opens up a little, with second-seeded Simona Halep having lost in the opening round.

Keys, who had a breakout year in 2015 when she reached the semifinals in Melbourne, the quarterfinals of Wimbledon and the fourth round in New York, would therefore not meet another seed until the quarterfinals at the earliest.

Elsewhere on Thursday, Madison Brengle toppled Johanna Larsson of Sweden, 7-5, 4-6, 6-1, to set up a third-round match with No. 7 seed Angelique Kerber, and Varvara Lepchenko continued her solid start to the season with a 7-6(7), 6-4 victory over Lara Arruabarrena of Spain. Playing in her seventh Australian Open, Lepchenko will face Shuai Zhang in the round of 16 as she looks to reach the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the third time in her career.

In the men’s draw, No. 10 seed John Isner continued to roll, defeating Marcos Granollers of Spain in three sets, 6-3, 7-6(6), 7-6(2). The 6-foot-10 American’s reward is a third-round matchup with 18th seed Feliciano Lopez. The pair have split their six career head-to-head meetings, with Isner winning their most recent encounter on the grass of London’s Queen’s Club last summer, but Lopez emerging victorious in their two matches at a major. It was at this stage of the Australian Open four years ago that Lopez eliminated Isner in a five-set battle.

Also advancing on Day 4 was No. 31 seed Steve Johnson, whose routine 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 win over Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil sets up a date with No. 8 seed David Ferrer. Should both Isner and Johnson win their respective matches, they would face each other in the fourth round.

It was not all positive news for the Americans on Thursday, however. No. 25 seed Jack Sock, battling both a recent virus and an ankle injury suffered in the first round, fell to Czech Lukas Rosol, 7-6(6), 7-6(5), 6-3, and qualifier Tim Smyczek lost to No. 21 seed Viktor Troicki of Serbia, 6-4, 7-6(5), 7-6(4).

Rajeev Ram went the distance with Frenchman Stephane Robert before eventually losing 6-1, 6-7(8), 4-6, 7-5, 7-5, in three hours and 36 minutes, and Vania King lost to Barbora Strycova, 7-6(5), 6-4.

King and Russia’s Alla Kudryavtseva successfully advanced in the first round of the women’s doubles, joining No. 6 seeds Abigail Spears and Raquel Atawo (formerly Kops-Jones), who defeated Sara Errani and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, also in straight sets. Irina Falconi and Lepchenko were also victorious, rallying past Australian favorites Alison Bai and Naiktha Bains in three sets.

In the men’s doubles, No. 3 seeds Mike and Bob Bryan began their quest for a seventh Australian Open title with a 7-5, 7-6(4) victory over Chris Guccione of Australia and Andre Sa of Brazil. The all-American pairings of Austin Krajicek and Donald Young and Eric Butorac and Scott Lipsky also proved to be winning combinations, with both teams advancing to the second round in straight sets.

Thursday’s American winners join world No. 1 Serena Williams and Lauren Davis in the third round. Serena continues her bid for her seventh Australian Open title – and her 22nd Grand Slam women’s single title, which would tie Steffi Graf for the most in the Open era – on Friday against Russia’s Daria Kasatkina. Davis squares off against No. 5 seed Maria Sharapova for a spot in the fourth round.