(Bleacher Report) – For a moment, it appeared Madison Keys would make history by toppling two Williams sisters in as many days. Serena Williams‘ jaw-dropping serve and a nagging leg injury for Keys ensured her potential glory stayed in that fleeting moment.
Williams, the world No. 1, advanced to her first Australian Open Final in a half-decade Thursday, taking down the unseeded teenager Keys 7-6 (5), 6-2, in a match that was far more competitive than most expected at points.
Keys opened the match by breaking Williams’ first serve and rarely lost her edge from there, playing with a competitive zeal that often made her look like the aggressor. But the veteran Williams advanced by holding steady for her second straight match, using her first-serve advantage and limiting critical mistakes.
Williams hit 13 aces and won 71 percent of her serve opportunities, doing a better job of keeping her first serve in play than she has throughout the tournament. The top-seeded American nearly won a better percentage of her second-serve chances than her first—a stark deviation that allowed her to fight against an opponent who looked physically superior at points.