Dubai Duty Free: Garcia fails to solve Keys puzzle again

The Frenchwoman's only win over Keys came nine years ago in the Billie Jean King Cup

By Joy Chakravarty

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Caroline Garcia hits a return during her match in Dubai on Tuesday. — Photo by Shihab
Caroline Garcia hits a return during her match in Dubai on Tuesday. — Photo by Shihab

Published: Tue 21 Feb 2023, 6:31 PM

Madison Keys has Caroline Garcia's number. Period.

Ranked fifth in the world and seeded fourth here, Garcia should have won their second-round match of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Tuesday afternoon. Instead, she will have to pack her bags, losing to Keys for a fourth straight time in their five meetings.


The only win for the Frenchwoman came nine years ago in the Billie Jean King Cup. Keys may not have a CV as impressive as Garcia's, but she has now won all four of their last four matches.

The 28-year-old Keys needed just one hour and 48 minutes to triumph 7-5, 6-4, and will move to the third round where she will meet former world No1 Victoria Azarenka, who had to battle hard for two hours and 43 minutes before taking out Amanda Anisimova of the US 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (5).


Keys said he did not feel any nerves before the match, probably because she was saving it all for her doubles match.

Madison Keys serves during the match on Tuesday. — Photo by Shihab
Madison Keys serves during the match on Tuesday. — Photo by Shihab

After all, the American world number 23 is partnering India’s Sania Mirza, who has announced her competitive retirement from all formats of the sport after this week. Mirza is a Dubai resident and has a massive following in the UAE.

Garcia, 29, making her eighth Dubai appearance, could not get her booming service games going. She is second in WTA this year in the number of aces made, but against Keys, she could add only four more, and frittered away that advantage with seven double faults.

“She is such an amazing player and obviously has had such a great end of the year and she’s kind of playing other top level,” said Keys after the match.

“So, I knew I was gonna have to play well. Especially in that second set once I got the break, I was just trying to take care of my serve.”

Both players played attacking tennis and rallies were short. The serve was always going to be important in such situations, and it was Keys who led in every category – a better first-serve percentage (60 percent to 50 percent), more points won with both first and second serve, more winners (19 to 13) and fewer unforced errors (34 to 46).

This will be Keys’ best result in Dubai, having lost in the second round last year.


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