Madison Keys def Elise Mertens 63 76(6)
Madison Keys is on the climb, after missing the first two months of 2017 thanks to wrist surgery. She and coach Lindsay Davenport have been working out the kinks since Indian Wells. Four months later, they found their rhythm in Stanford, where Madison crushed the top-seed Garbine Muguruza in the semi’s. She then won a tight two-sets over Coco Vandeweghe in the Final. The surgery was an irritating aside, after a season that saw Madison win her second career title, reach two finals, compete in the Bronze medal match in Rio, reach a career-high ranking of World #7 and compete in the year-end WTA Finals.
Now the #16 Player in the World, Tuesday night’s opener wasn’t a cake-walk for Madison. She faced a determined, top-40 Belgian who had just reached the New Haven Semifinals, and who had Kim Clijsters in her ear. In the first-set, we were on-serve up to the third sit-down. Always timely, Keys scored her first break and screached “C’MON!” as she served out the set 6-4.
Mertens continued to battle. Down 5-6 in the second, with the match on the line, Elise delivered a clutch break to force the tie-break. At 6-all in the breaker, Keys went high-risk and attacked. It paid off. Two points later, she was walking out for an interview with Pam Shriver…where Madison admitted her last two high-risk rips in the tie-break were probably more insane than tactically brilliant.
Next up for Keys: Tatjana Maria from Germany, who comes into this year’s Open with a career-high ranking of World #61.