I just want to go out in every match and be happy with how I competed at the end of the match
Rising star Madison Keys is projected to break the world’s top 100 after picking up her first win at the Australian Open
The 17-year-old from Rock Island, Illinois, who began the season ranked 149, has lived up to her billing in 2013. After just making the cut-off for qualifying in Sydney, Keys went on a run to the quarter final of the main draw, beating five top 100 players along the way, including a straight-set demolition of world No.17 Lucie Safarova.
After seeing off Aussie hopeful Casey Dellacqua 6-4, 7-6 in the first round in Melbourne, Keys says she’s happy to break the top 100 but her priority is her performances and not her ranking.
“I just want to go out in every match and be happy with how I competed at the end of the match,” said the big-hitting American. “Even if I didn’t play well, if I could be proud about how I competed then I’d be happy.”
Keys, who admits to getting into tennis because she liked the dresses, grew up playing at Chris Evert’s tennis academy in Boca Raton, Florida, and she says the 18-time Grand Slam champion has had a big influence on her career.
“Chrissie still goes go to the academy and hits with all the girls,” Keys told tennishead. “I got to hit with her and practise with her, she’s actually here commentating so I got to see her yesterday and give her a big hug. She was amazing in all the time I was there and even now that I’m at the USTA she’s still so supportive.”
So what does Keys think of Evert comparing her serve to that of Serena Williams? “I try not to listen because I think if you listen too much you can almost psych yourself out when you go to serve and you’re thinking, ‘Wow, I have to do really well right now!’”
The WTA top 100 is now home to a number of promising teenagers – six to be exact – and that’s not including Keys and another young talent, Croatian and world No.111 Donna Vekic, who at 16 years old is also projected to crash the party after winning her first round in Melbourne. Sloane Stephens, 19, is the highest ranked teen at No.25, followed by No.53 Laura Robson (18), No.71 Annika Beck (18), No.73 Timea Babos (19), No.81 Lauren Davies (19) and No.98 Kristina Mladenovic (19).
Keys will face the No.30 seed Tamira Paszek of Austria in the next round as she aims to reach the third round of a major for the first time in her career.