Mentioning Madison Keys in the same breath as Serena Williams is not going to happen. However, the 22-year-old could be the next big thing in women’s tennis. Is she ready to take the next step?
Keys has been on the tennis landscape for quite some time. She is one of the youngest to win a WTA event, doing so at the age of 14.
It has been the last three years that we have seen her true emergence. She has gone from relatively obscure to future Grand Slam winner rather quickly.
Winning a Grand Slam event is the pinnacle of careers. There is no reason as to why Keys should not win multiple majors. Under the tutelage of Thomas Hogstedt and Lindsay Davenport, she has put out an impressive record at the four major tournaments.
While never getting to the Finals of any major, Keys has come extremely close. She made it to the semis of the Australian Open in 2015. That same year, she reached the quarters of Wimbledon. The most recent display of her potential came at the 2016 Olympics, where she played
in the semi-finals.
The 2017 season has not gotten off to the start Keys would have wished. Unfortunately, she underwent surgery on her wrist at the end of 2016, preventing her from partaking in this year’s Australian Open. Ranked as the 7th best woman on the WTA circuit in October, Keys injury would force her to the sidelines for the year’s first major.
Upon her return, Keys has performed quite well at both Indian Wells and Miami Open. The former saw her advance to the round of 16, losing to Caroline Wozniacki. Despite the loss, it was an encouraging effort from Keys.
With just over a month until the French Open, Keys will have had plenty of time to recover from her wrist injury. It is here that she will have the greatest opportunity to win her first major.
Had Keys played the Australian Open, it would have guaranteed her a top-10 seed at the tournament. Going into the French, she could fall anywhere from 10-20. While a top-15 seed still considers you a favorite at the French, Keys will be able to fly under the radar for the first few rounds.
With her recent injury, an opponent might take her too lightly. Although, when she hits the second week of play, there will be no coasting, as the opposition will be greater and has had plenty of time to study her game. It could end up that she faces someone of the same caliber as Wozniacki in the round of 16 once again, a tough task for Madison Keys.
If Keys can once again advance to the top-four, that can be considered a major victory. While never making it past the fourth round of the French Open, she just needs to avoid the early exit. Early being anything before the round of 16. She can use that momentum for Wimbledon, which is just weeks away from the end of the French.
Madison Keys was born to win big tennis matches. While her injury was a major setback, she seems to be getting her groove back. If the 2016 Olympics were an indication, the rest of 2017 could be a true breakout story for the young American.
Follow Daniel James Gentile on twitter @dgentleman9288