"I think they all had really tough draws", Madison Keys had said about her American comrades, Sloane Stephens, Venus Williams and Coco Vandeweghe who'd all lose in the first round of the Australian Open. Keys was the fortunate American among a few who won their opening rounds like Lauren Davis, Nicole Gibbs and Bernarda Pena on the women's side. But " ... It's how sports work" she added, with a sheepish grin. It appears right now that the domino effect didn't get to Keys as she swings into the second round after her defeat of China's Qiang Wang 6-1, 7-5.
But things haven't been easy for Keys even the last 2017 season. She suffered wrist injuries and missed the last Australian Open because of surgery. She did manage to come back making it through to the US Open in an All-American final with her friend Sloane Stephens. But prior to that spectacular, she had significant wins over Japan's Naomi Osaka at Indian Wells, Ashleigh Barty of Australia at Roland Garros and winning her third career title at the Bank of the West. The defeat of Garbine Muguruza and Coco Vandeweghe at that California tournament proved to be a confidence-builder and wins over Elina Svitolina and Vandeweghe at her climb up the US Open final was an added bonus to help her build mental toughness and also physical endurance.
Keys has come into this new season with a new disposition and was determined to make a good start when she was given Qiang Wang as her first round opponent, one that has proven to be a crafty player despite her 45th ranking. Nothing was taken for granted as their Melbourne opener started. Madison Keys began with a serve down-the-tee and from that moment on started playing aggressive tennis. Powerful cross courts and finding the open court to stun Wang was much of Keys tactics on defeating a player that had easily lost to her in the first set, 6-1. Wang had a bit more punch in the second but it didn't unnerve Keys at all as they had rallies that proved to serve as victories on the American's side and before long the second set and match belonged to Keys winning 6-1, 7-5.
Madison Keys is on a positive path to further her bid for an Australian Open title, which not only will be her first title out at Melbourne but her first grand slam crown. She's got the skills and the tactics to make it happen but with staying healthy, fit and smart this will give her a winning edge on all of her opponents and comrades.