Classy Keys marks tour return by beating Bencic

Oleh John Skilbeck 3 Mac 2021 6
Classy Keys marks tour return by beating Bencic

Madison Keys is intent on giving Maria Sakkari a second-round test after marking her first WTA Tour appearance since September with a clinical win at the Qatar Open.

American world number 19 Keys, who reached the US Open final in 2017, had not played on tour since losing to Zhang Shuai in the first round of the French Open in late September – she was ruled out of the Australian swing of this season after a positive coronavirus test.

But Keys roared back to action with a thumping 6-4 6-1 victory over Belinda Bencic on Tuesday, the Swiss who last week reached the Adelaide International final.

"I'm really happy with how I came out and played today," Keys said. "I'm a little bit surprised with myself but hoping to keep the momentum going."

Sakkari promises to pose a tricky test for Keys, who is unseeded this week, given the Greek player dropped only three games in her opening win over Mayar Sherif and has shown bright early-season form.

World number 23 Elena Rybakina tripped up in the first round after the Moscow-born Kazakh player lost 7-6 (9-7) 7-6 (7-5) to Germany's 56th-ranked Laura Siegemund at the WTA Premier event.

Jessie Pegula, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Ons Jabeur and Misaki Doi also scored straight-sets victories in Doha.

At the Lyon Open, French players Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic were both pushed to three sets before inking their places in the last 16.

Third seed Garcia edged compatriot Oceane Dodin 6-2 2-6 6-3, while fourth seed Mladenovic scrambled for a 5-7 7-5 6-2 win over Romanian Mihaela Buzarnescu.

Former Wimbledon runner-up Eugenie Bouchard, in on a wildcard, was bounced out 7-6 (9-7) 6-2 by Aliaksandra Sasnovich, the world number 96 from Belarus.

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John Skilbeck

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