Keys booms past big-hitting Dolehide

Madison Keys looked back to near her big-hitting best in ending US qualifier Caroline Dolehide's adventures.

 - Ian Chadband

Madison Keys won her big-hitting ‘battle of llinois’ with her exciting US teenage compatriot Caroline Dolehide on Wednesday to end the youngster’s stirring journey to her first Grand Slam main draw.

Serving up a booming treat for ground-pass holders on the new Court 7, a terrific arena situated between the imposing edifices of Lenglen and Chatrier, US Open finalist Keys, the number 13 seed, offered glimpses of getting back to her imposing best as she ran out a convincing 6-4 6-1 winner.

Dolehide, a 19-year-old from near Chicago who lives a two-and-a-half hour drive from Keys’ Illinois home of Rock Island, had the power to match her illustrious colleague but after her heroics in battling through the qualifiers, she found the 23-year-old in irresistible form, blasting 14 winners in the 69-minute rout.

The victory also set up a mouth-watering last-32 clash for Keys with another of the rising US brigade Naomi Osaka, a 6-4 7-5 winner against Kazakh Zarina Diyas on Wednesday, which should prove one of the highlights of the third round.

It was all a welcome return to form for Keys, who has had an uneven time of it since reaching the US final against Sloane Stephens last August, struggling with injuries and enduring a poor run of recent form until a couple of promising wins in Rome were ended by a rib problem.

Yet she looked to have no problems here. After very little had separated the pair in the opening eight games, Dolehide cracked under the weight of Keys’ penetrative groundstrokes, getting broken to 15. Though she immediately rallied to save two set points, the teenager struck her forehand long to finally concede the set in 39 minutes at the third time of asking.

When Dolehide played an absent-minded opening game of the second set to be broken to love and then missed out on the chance for an immediate break back, the game was effectively up and Keys really began to find her impressive range.

Dolehide has made fine progress this year, beating Dominika Cibulkova - her first victory over a top-30 player - and even pushing Simona Halep to the brink of defeat at the same tournament but this looked a step too far for the youngster.

Yet even while Keys could prove a danger to anyone on this form, she will have her work cut out rather more in her next match with Osaka. Last year after they had played in Indian Wells, she had pronounced “I'd happily play a Slam final against Naomi Osaka one day” but the Roland-Garros crowds will happily take the meeting as a third-round humdinger.

“Of course, I know how great of a player Madison is,” said Osaka, who is losing 2-0 on their head-to-head record, in her post-match interview on Wednesday. “And I have never beaten her.”