Every week Baseline will select a “Player of the Week.” That athlete may not always win the highest category tournament that week, but perform the best compared to their recent playing history.
Madison Keys’ outlook at the beginning of the season, and even the beginning of last week, was not the best. The 22-year-old American was still recovering from two wrist surgeries, holding only five match wins in 2017, none of which had come against Top 50 opponents.
It is not like she has been getting a lot of matches in, either. Keys’ team didn’t even want her playing Wimbledon following post-French Open surgery.
"I came into this tournament with the goal of having good solid matches, trying to get consistent, and feel good on the tennis court,” Keys said on Sunday in Stanford. “I think I did that.”
Beating Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza and Australian Open semifinalist CoCo Vandeweghe, both in straight sets, fits the bill. Keys played tennis reminiscent of her time in the Top 10 to win her first title in the United States, and her third overall, over Vandeweghe, 7-6 (4), 6-4.
When Keys crushed Muguruza earlier in the week, it was hard to imagine her topping that performance. But her play in the final against Vandeweghe was impressive to say the least.
The two Americans traded purely-struck groundstrokes for an hour and 28 minutes during which the biggest losers were the tennis balls that got the fuzz hit off of them.
Whoever got the first strike in a point tended to control play and not let go of it, with Keys hanging onto her service games while under pressure in the first set, before cruising on her own serve in the second.
Keys and company were plenty happy with the win that bumped her back into the world’s Top 20, and there were plenty of hugs to show it.
While only a month ago Keys’ health was in question, her tennis against a Stanford field that included six Top 25 opponents showed that if she can maintain her good health throughout the US Open Series, the American will be a serious threat at the year’s final Grand Slam.
"It hasn't been the easiest season,” Keys said. “But it finally feels like I'm on the right track and feeling good about my tennis again.”
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