"This one can't close out a match and you know that."
Jon Leach to Madison Keys 8/5/2015
Except that last night Ajla Tomljanovic did close out a match leaving a devastated Madison Keys to quickly leave the scene of the crime, uh, sorry the court.
Madison Keys started out on a high hitting winners at will and with such ease it looked as if Tomljnovic would be on her way to her next tournament causing me to go back to watching the mens match in Washington. Imagine my surprise when I checked the scoreboard and saw Tomljanovic won the second set and was well on her way to winning the third. Watching the third set it became clear why there was such a turn around in the match.
Tennis is about adjustment, about reacting to what your opponent is doing and adjusting your game accordingly. It's nice when your opponent is unable to do that and leaves you free to play however you want. A good player will adjust however and that is when you have to do the same. In other words you have to go to your personal Plan B.
When I tuned back into Madison's match she was spraying errors all over the place when her shots weren't finding the net. There was one exchange where Tomljanovic took a bit off a return and Keys hit it like it had insulted her or something. That shot ended up in the net. That was the story of the third set blow out.
Madison has been playing on the main tour for a few years now. It's stunning that she hasn't learned the lesson about having a Plan B. Is it a question of coaching or a question of temperament and ego. Madison Keys has the potential to be one of the best women players of the next generation. She's got to learn to stop throwing a hissy fit when her opponent doesn't do what she wants her to do and forces her to have to hit more than two shots to win a point. I could go into a discourse about how the US wants its players to play one-two tennis and how it's holding its players back but that's for another time. I'll just say that the reason players who grow up on clay have a better all around game is because that surface forces you to constantly adjust, to constantly have to figure out what your opponent is going to do next. The US focus on first strike tennis can, with a favorable draw, get it's players to the quarter finals of a major but not much beyond that point. To get past that point requires a skill and mental agility US trained players don't have at this point.
If Madison Keys, with all her potential, turns out to be a mediocre player that is on the USTA and her coaching. Yes, even the sainted Lindsay Davenport bears some responsibility for what happened Wednesday night. Madison played just like Taylor Townsend does Wednesday - my way or the highway tennis. Of course Taylor has issues Madison doesn't and I don't want to get into a discussion about her woes now.
Leach went on to tell Madison that Tomljanovic would say thank you if she handed her the match. Did anyone hear the hearty "Hvala" Tomljanovic said to Keys at the end? I think I did.
That "D" grade I gave Keys for her performance so far this year? It stands until after the US Open.
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