With Davenport by her side, Keys hoping for breakthrough
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Madison Keys remembers watching Lindsay Davenport play against Venus Williams in the Wimbledon finals. Just don’t ask her for many details.
”I vaguely remember it. I was in our house in Florida. Other than that I can’t tell you much,” the 19-year-old American said. ”I was so young, I have no idea.”
For the record, Davenport, a three-time major winner, played two finals against Williams at the All England Club – in 2000 and 2005. Keys would have been 5 years old the first time around, and 10 years old the second.
Keys is now one of the most promising of the next generation of American players, long considered a possible future Grand Slam champion herself.
After rising dramatically in the rankings in 2013 and cracking the top 50, however, her game seemed to plateau and she struggled with consistency, particularly in big matches. At the end of last year, she made a bold decision – she turned to the 38-year-old Davenport for help.
With Davenport and her husband, Jon Leach, now by her side as coaches, Keys is into the third round at the Australian Open, one of seven American woman to make it this far.
She credits Davenport with being a steadying influence.
”We get along really well and we play similar games so it’s really nice to have someone who not only plays somewhat like me, but also has gone through it, knows the nerves, the stresses, all of that,” Keys said.
Keys now faces one of the biggest tests of her young career – she plays two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in a night match on Rod Laver Arena on Saturday for a spot in the fourth round. She’s never made it to the second week of a major before.
”I’m sure no matter what, I’ll walk on the court and be nervous, but it’s one of those things where you just go out and do your best and walk off and be happy with it,” she said.
After years of hand-wringing about the state of U.S. tennis, the Americans have to be pretty happy about their week in Melbourne so far. Joining Keys in the third round on the women’s side were Serena and Venus Williams, Varvara Lepchenko, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Madison Brengle and Coco Vandeweghe. John Isner and Steven Johnson made the third round for the men.
Mattek-Sands lost her third-round match to French Open finalist Simona Halep on Friday. The other eight Americans play on Saturday.
”I’m just so happy I’m in a press conference and someone said it’s been a good day for Americans instead of `Oh, American tennis…’ Keys said. ”It’s awesome. There’s been a lot of good matches. Even some of the losses have been really close matches with really high-ranked players.”
Davenport is going to get on the court herself, too.
”She has seniors she’s getting ready for,” Keys said, before realizing her mistake. ”Sorry, not seniors, legends. She’s going to yell at me later.”