Tennis

Madison Keys takes down Roberta Vinci in Miami Open third round

Boca Raton resident Madison Keys stretches for a return in her victory against Roberta Vinci in the third round.
Boca Raton resident Madison Keys stretches for a return in her victory against Roberta Vinci in the third round. pfarrell@miamiherald.com

The so-called “great expectations” have always been a part of Madison Keys’ tennis life — and rightfully so.

Even at the young age of 21, she is currently the third-ranked U.S. player in the world at No. 24, behind Serena Williams (No. 1) and Sloane Stephens (No. 22). And yet, some people — the impatient people, who have a certain amount of gall — say she’s not doing enough and not doing it quickly enough.

She gave those doubters an on-court answer Sunday at the Miami Open being held at the Crandon Park Tennis Center on Key Biscayne.

Keys, using her best weapons — a powerful forehand and baseline game along with a strong serve — defeated Roberta Vinci of Italy, the No. 9-ranked player in the world, in their third-round match 6-4, 6-4. The victory advances Keys to the fourth round against Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu, ranked 35th in the world, and one step away from the quarterfinals,

During an on-court interview, Keys completely understated her performance, saying, “I did pretty well.” The Stadium Court fans laughed when she said that over the loudspeaker.

Have all the expectations calling on her to be a savior of U.S. women’s tennis been a boon or a hindrance for Keys?

She says neither.

“It’s definitely been an opportunity for me,” she said. “I’ve been lucky, because there are a lot of American women that can share the spotlight with me.”

Keys called her victory against Vinci “. . . definitely a big win for me. It was really good, I relied on my weapons and the serve. It’s a step forward.”

Keys is a South Florida local, growing up as part of the Chris Evert Academy in Boca Raton. Keys, who lives in Boca Raton, first won a match on the WTA Tour at the age of 14 years and 48 days. In 2014, she won her first WTA event. In 2015, she made the semifinals of the Australian Open and entered the top 20 for the first time.

Supposedly, Keys had an extremely logical reason to become interested in tennis. Apparently, she was enamored of Venus Williams’ white tennis dress.

One highlight Keys can still relish is beating Serena Williams as a 14-year-old. The setting — a 5-1 victory in a World Team Tennis match playing for the Philadelphia Freedom — wasn’t the most important in the world, but nevertheless it had to be fun, and certainly nice to talk about for a lifetime.

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