By Jacopo Tezza, Director at Evert Tennis Academy
Impressed, really impressed. The Australian Open just came to an end and I could not be more impressed with the performance that Madison Keys has been able to put up.
Let me say one thing clear, I am not talking about Madison’s tennis; I know Madison’s unique talent very well and I know what she is capable of doing.
Where Madison surprised me the most, was her mental toughness and maturity she showed in one of the biggest tennis stages. During the years, I worked with Madison and even after, Madison’s biggest challenge was how to handle the pressure from the outside: media, sponsors and peers.
Tennis was never the issue. She is naturally gifted with incredible talent. Everyone expected her to win all the time, and she was obviously feeling some pressure because of that. Often I have seen Madison alternating great performances to some inexplicable ones.
All of Madison’s performances had one thing in common: pressure affected her game. The Madison I watched closely down in Melbourne is a new player. Much more mature, confident in her game and above all, she looked happy.
Her attitude on the court was the usual fighter, but there was an X factor in her game: calmness/confidence. I could see it between the points, I could see it after a bad mistake, how she regrouped, and it was very noticeable the way she handled the big moments of her matches.
This calmness and maturity has by default, brought a new dimension in her game: shots selections. During her run at the Australian Open, Madison has shown to be able to make good choices while playing; relying on her serve when in trouble, building the point from the baseline without rushing shots, and not panicking during the tough moments of the matches.
From a technical standpoint, Madison has always had clean strokes that only needed maintenance work. Her timing on the ball is unique in the tour. Only Serena can generate the same amount of power from the baseline by striking the ball so clean.
I have pleasantly noticed the willingness to come to the net and finish the points with volleys when necessary; where by the way she won the majority of the points.
Her serve was at time unstoppable, and she was moving around the court better than I have ever seen.
So what is next for Madison now? Well, the scary part is that Madison is only 19 years old and her game has still room for improvement. In my opinion, Madison is only now becoming aware of her game; she is maturing and she is embracing her talent without fears.
I believe that once she reaches full mental and physical maturity, her Grand Slam appearances won’t end in the semifinals. Be careful though, some people may think that from now on, everything is going to be easier while instead Madison needs to keep her eyes on the target without distractions.
Now, she has come out with a boom, and players-media-fans-sponsors will look for her. Managing her success will be extremely important for the rest of the year especially with the 2 big American tournaments coming up: Indian Wells and Miami.
This is only another obstacle in Madison’s young career that will be part of her journey to success.
I have no doubt. .