Dubai: US Open finalist Madison Keys has already made a massive impression but is now primed and ready to add the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships titles to her lengthening list of accomplishments.
She became one of the youngest players to win a match on the WTA Tour, at the age of 14 years and 48 days, and was the first American woman to debut in the top 10 since Serena Williams in 1999, entering at 10th in June 2016 before rising to seventh later that year, becoming the best player to emerge from the US in nearly two decades. This has resulted in expert observers believing she could one day be the best player in the world.
Keys suffered a major career setback in 2017 when she had to undergo two rounds of wrist surgery, but she rebounded from that to enjoy a tremendous last few weeks of the season.
After having just five wins under his belt until August, she defeated recent Wimbledon champion and World No. 4 Garbine Muguruza on her way to claiming the Stanford title, before enjoying a stunning run to the final of the US Open with a third round victory over Dubai champion Elina Svitolina along the way, before losing to close friend Sloane Stephens.
That could have presented a difficult situation for them both, but not only did they sit and chat together after the match while waiting for the award presentation to take place, they also went out together that night for Sloane’s celebration party.
“You figure out how to separate your friendship from being on the court, and I think when we come off the court we’re able to leave what happens there and still have a great friendship off of the court,” said Keys.
“We have known each other for so long and we have been through so much that we wanted to share that moment (after the match) with each other. To be able to share my first Slam experience with a really close friend when it’s also her first Slam was a really special moment. There’s no one else in the world that it would have meant as much as it did (to be with).”
This year saw her lose her opening match in Brisbane where the luck of the draw pitted her against Johanna Konta, but she went on to enjoy an excellent Australian Open where she reached the quarter-finals before falling to 2016 champion and former World No. 1 Angelique Kerber.
The women’s WTA event takes place from February 19-24 and features Wimbledon winner Garbine Muguruza, Dubai defending champion and recent Brisbane winner Elina Svitolina, 2018 Sydney champion and Australian Open semi-finalist Angelique Kerber, 2018 Australian Open runner-up Simona Halep and 2016 US Open finalist Karolina Pliskova. Also competing are two-time Wimbledon winner and 2018 St. Petersburg champion Petra Kvitova and 2018 St. Petersburg runner-up Kristina Mladenovic.
The men’s ATP event follows from February 26 to March 3, including ATP World Tour Finals champion Grigor Dimitrov and recent Montpellier winner Lucas Pouille. Tickets, ranging from Dh55 for the WTA’s opening rounds to Dh735 for the ATP finals, are available online via http://www.dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com/en/tickets and the Dubai Tennis Stadium box office in Garhoud, which is open from 9am to 9pm daily.