June 14, 2024

Open Court


INDIAN WELLS, Calif. – Finally, American Madison Keys is 100 per cent healthy.

Now, she has to shake off the rustiness from having played so little tennis and get back to winning.

That didn’t happen Saturday at the BNP Paribas Open, as Keys went down to a solid Mona Barthel, 3-6, 6-1, 7-5. It was a second-round match, but the first for the 24-year-old Keys after a first-round bye.

This is just the second tournament of the season for Keys, who lost in the round of 16 at the Australian Open. She also played two Fed Cup matches against Australia, winning one and losing the other to Ashleigh Barty.

But then, she took a pass on the tournaments in the Middle East.

Keys made the semifinals at the French Open and the semifinals again at the US Open last year. But she didn’t play much tennis after that. 

She retired in her second match in Wuhan, China last September against Angelique Kerber – already down 6-0, 4-1 when she pulled the plug. She also withdrew from Beijing after winning her first-round match.

She reappeared in early November to play the second-tier Tour final in Zhuhai. But then she didn’t play any warmup events before the first major of the year in Melbourne.

No momentum since 2016

In her post-match interview, Keys said that she hadn’t been able to get any momentum in her career since … all the way back in 2016. 

She has posted some impressive results – especially at majors – during that time span. But that’s an extended period, at a young age, to have sort of stalled in a career that very much seemed to have an upward trajectory.

Healthy now, she hopes she can finally start stringing matches and tournaments together.

Keys lost her first match at Indian Wells a year ago, to the (then) surprising Danielle Collins. So she won’t lose any ground from her current ranking of No. 17. But she won’t make up any, either.

She’ll be in the same situation at the next top in Miami, where after a first round bye she retired in the second set of her match against Victoria Azarenka last year.

Keys bounced back after that, reaching the semifinals in Charleston.

Here’s some of what she said Saturday.

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