Madison Keys And The Struggle To Deal With Great Expectations - UBITENNIS
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Madison Keys And The Struggle To Deal With Great Expectations

Exploring Madison Keys’ constant battle with the pressure of being tipped for success from an early age.

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Madison Keys (@TennisChannel on Twitter)

Madison Keys has been tipped to reach the very top of the tennis ladder ever since she beat Serena Williams at World Team Tennis when she was just 14 years old.

 

Five years later, both Williams sisters faced Keys at the Australian Open. Venus declared that “the sky’s the limit” for the young American, while Serena told yahoo.com, “She’s obviously a great player, she’s going to be winning this tournament very soon and lots of other Grand Slams.”

The problem for the World No.10 is that it has not happened yet. Ten years on from that auspicious victory, she is still considered a future Grand Slam winner and World No.1.

“All of a sudden, people say, ‘She’s a contender,’” Keys told the Denver Post in 2016. “It’s the next logical step: You made the semifinals, you should make a final. You make a final, you should win. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works.”

However, when a player is as talented as the American undoubtedly is, pressure is inevitable. Her fans and her governing body expect her to win the biggest prizes in tennis, and deep down she probably expects herself to win them too.

Such expectation tends to weigh heavily on the mind, and certain performances from Keys suggest it does exactly that. The most obvious example is the 2017 US Open final against Sloane Stephens when the American played one of the worst matches of her career and was thrashed 6-3 6-0.

Shock Wimbledon loss prompts a change in attitude from Keys

MadisonKeys (@Wimbledon on Twitter)

Troublingly, the World No.10 suffered a shock loss to Evgeniya Rodina at Wimbledon when she was seemingly in great form just nine months later. She called it a ‘massive mishandle of nerves’.

But it also seemed to serve as something of wake-up call for Keys. In the press conference that followed, she declared her intention to develop a plan to deal with dips in form during a match and identify them more quickly.

The American also admitted she finds it hard when she is the favourite to win a match. Given this, she will have been encouraged by her runs at the next three Grand Slams, where she always reached at least the fourth round and then lost to a top ten player.

Then the old problem resurfaced at Wimbledon 2019 when Keys lost 6-2 6-4 to World No.60 Polona Hercog in the second round.

Thankfully for the World No.10, she has thus far avoided a similar fate at the US Open. She brushed aside Misaki Doi 7-5 6-0 in her opening match and then beat Lin Zhu just as easily, 6-4 6-1, in the second round.

Those wins mean Keys will probably face one of the stars of the season – 20th seed Sofia Kenin – in round three.

“I think she has been having a really great year, year and a half even,” the American said in her press conference. “She is just really crafty. She knows how to take time away but knows when to take pace off and all that. She’s just a really, really smart player.”

Keys on her love affair with Flushing Meadows

Madison Keys (@usopen on Twitter)

If that seems a difficult third round, it pales in comparison to Keys’ likely path thereafter. She could face Elina Svitolina in the last 16, Karolina Pliskova in the quarter-final and either Ashleigh Barty or Serena in the semi-final.

Looking at that sequence, it is clear that the American is going to have to produce her very best to stand a chance of winning her first Grand Slam title at Flushing Meadows this year.

Keys can do it, and her stunning march to glory in Cincinnati in the build-up may serve as the ideal confidence booster that gets into a position to challenge at this year’s US Open.

Luckily for the American, she is frequently inspired by her surroundings. “I have lots of really great memories here,” she said. “I’ve had some of my best and most exciting matches on the grounds. That’s always really special for me.”

“Even my first Grand Slam win was here. I love playing here and I’m always excited when I get to play multiple matches in a row.”

The American believes these good memories help her. “It gives me the confidence that no matter how a match is going, I’ve figured out ways in the past to get through them,” she said.

Keys also uses the crowd to her advantage. “There’s been matches where I’ve been pretty much down and out, and the crowd has stayed behind me, gotten me back into the match, and supported me throughout,” she said.

The fans at Flushing Meadows will give the American enthusiastic support again this year. And she will need every clap and every cheer to help her beat some of the best players in the game.

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REPORT: Madrid Open To Be Axed Amid COVID-19 Concerns In Latest Setback For Tennis

Hopes of Spain holding their top tennis event in 2020 are over.

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The world of tennis is set to suffer another severe blow with multiple media sources confirming that organisers of Spain’s most prestigious tennis tournament will officially cancel their event on Tuesday. 

 

The Mutua Madrid Open will be removed from the 2020 calendar following a meeting involving tournament owner Iron Tiriac. Recently doubts have been cast on the event after local health officials called for it to be suspended due to a spike in COVID-19 cases. Although the final decision was up to Tiriac and his team. It had been due to take place between September 12 to 20, following the conclusion of the US Open. 

“We have to be realistic now, we have to accept that health is always the priority. We must not endanger anyone, neither the fans, nor the players, nor the staff, all those who come to Madrid in September,” tournament director Feliciano Lopez told L’Equipe over the weekend. 

Spain has seen their rate of COVID-19 cases rapidly rise since the country ended its lockdown. According to El Pais, the number of cases recorded within 24 hours is eight times the amount compared to 40 days ago. Rising from 334 (June 20) to 2,789 (between July 29 and 30). On Friday July 31st there were 3092 new cases in the country in what is a post-lockdown record.

Held at the Caja Magica, the Madrid Open is a key event for both men and women. It is currently classed as a Masters 1000 for the men and as a Premier Mandatory for the women. Last year each of the singles champions took home €1,202,520 in prize money. It was originally set to be played in May but was postponed due to the pandemic.

The demise of Madrid this year is another setback for what is becoming a rapidly thinning 2020 tennis calendar. Within the past two weeks China has confirmed that they will not be hosting any tournaments this year, Japan’s scrapped it’s premier women’s event and the Italian Open has been advised to not allow any fans to their event this year. 

As a result of the latest development, only two WTA clay-court events will take place after the US Open leading up to Roland Garros. They are both set to get underway on September 21st in Rome and Strasbourg. As for the men, Rome will be their only point of call. 

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Fate Of Madrid Open To Be Decided This Week

Spain’s most prestigious tennis tournament looks to be in serious danger of getting the axe following recent developments.

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There will be a final decision regarding this year’s Madrid’s Open within the next couple of days but hopes of the tournament going ahead are low, according to its tournament director.

 

Feliciano Lopez has spoken out about the current situation in an interview with the L’Equipe newspaper on Saturday. The mixed tournament has been thrown into doubt after the local council said it would be “inadvisable” for the tournament to be played in September because of the “health risks involved for the public, organization, and players.” Spain is currently experiencing a rise in COVID-19 cases amid concerns of a second wave. On Friday there were 3092 new cases in the country in what is a post-lockdown record.

“We were confident two months ago that the tournament would take place. The situation has worsened in the last two or three weeks in the Madrid region, not just in the city of Madrid, but in the whole region,” Lopez told L’Equipe.
“We have to be realistic now, we have to accept that health is always the priority. We must not endanger anyone, neither the fans, nor the players, nor the staff, all those who come to Madrid in September.”

A decision is set to be made within “two or three days” by tournament owner Ion Tiriac and Super Slam Ltd, the tournament’s licence holder. Tiriac is a Romanian billionaire businessman who is also a former tennis player. He won the 1970 French Open doubles title with compatriot Ilie Nastase.

Weighing up its chances, Lopez admits that he ‘isn’t optimistic’ that the Madrid Open will be able to go ahead. The event is currently classed as a Masters 1000 for the men and as a Premier Mandatory for the women. It was originally set to be played in May but was postponed due to the pandemic.

We are not very optimistic now. We were very positive a few weeks ago. We have a very good protocol, everything is ready, we worked hard to make the event take place, because it is also very important to offer tournaments to the players today.” Said Lopez.
“Last week, we had meetings with the government. Their recommendation is to cancel all events now during the summer. Of course, the decision is ours, it will be Ion’s. We have to work with everyone, the government, the ATP, the WTA and make the best decision for everyone. But we must also listen to the recommendations of the authorities, see how the situation is developing this week.”
He added.

Held on clay at the Caja Magica, the Madrid Open has been a combined event for the men and women since 2009. Last year Novak Djokovic and Kiki Bertens won the singles titles with them each taking home €1,202,520 in prize money.

Besides having the responsibility of the Madrid Open, world No.56 Lopez is continuing his career on the Tour at the age of 38. Questioned about the remaining 2020 season, the Spaniard admits there is a lot of uncertainty for all players. Tournament across Asia have already been cancelled due to the virus and recently the Italian Open was told at present they can’t allow fans to their tournament, which takes place the week after Madrid’s slot.

This season is already completely lost. But what will happen next year, when we still don’t have a vaccine? The situation will be exactly the same as now if we don’t have a vaccine! When is it going to end, I don’t know.” Lopez concluded.

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‘Think Of Others For Once’ – Nick Kyrgios Issues Warning To Rivals As He Withdraws From US Open

The world No.40 has once again took a swipe at Novak Djokovic’s ‘money-grabbing’ Adria Tour.

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Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios has said he is pulling out of the US Open in respect of those in his home country as well as America who has lost their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

The former top-20 player published a video outlining his reason for withdrawing from the event on the social media accounts of athlete empowerment brand Uninterrupted. During the video he once again made a swipe at Novak Djokovic and others over their ‘selfish’ involvement in the controversy-stricken Adria Tour. Which was criticised for a lack of anti-COVID measures before an outbreak of the virus among players and coaching staff occurred. Djokovic, Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Vikor Troicki all got infected.

“You can’t be dancing on tables, money-grabbing your way around Europe or trying to make a quick buck, hosting an exhibition. That’s just so selfish. Think of the other people for once. That’s what this virus is about,” he said.
“It doesn’t care about your world ranking or how much money you have. Act responsibly.”

Kyrgios has stated that he isn’t critical of the decision made by the United States Tennis Association to hold the event this year. Which will have on offer 90% of the prize money that was available during the 2019 tournament. Under strict measures, the tournament will be held behind closed doors for the first time in history with players kept in what is being described as a ‘protective bubble.’

“I have got no problem with the USTA putting on the US Open and if players want to go, that’s up to them, so long as everyone acts appropriately and acts safely,” he stated.
“No-one wants people to keep their jobs more than me.’
“I am speaking for the guy who works in the restaurants, the cleaners and the locker room attendants. These are the people who need their jobs back the most and fair play to them.”

The announcement comes shortly after women’s world No.1 Ash Barty announced that she wouldn’t be playing due to coronavirus concerns. Another Australian player, Alexi Popryin, have previously said he would not attend the event. Furthermore, Chinese world No.29 Wang Qiang has pulled out due to ‘travel and safety concerns.’

“To those players who have been observing the rules and acting selflessly, I say good luck to you. Play at your own risk, and I have no problem with that,” said Kyrgios.

The withdrawal ends Kyrgios’ streak of seven consecutive main draw appearance at Flushing Meadows. His best rest was reaching the third round on four separate occasions (2014, 2016, 2018 and 2019). Overall he has won eight out of 15 matches played in New York.

This year’s US Open will get underway on August 31st.

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