I’m not an avid Twitter user. But when I do tweet about my favorite tennis player, Madison Keys, I use the hashtags #ImWithMaddie and #FutureMajorWinner. Maybe I should reconsider using the latter. Don’t misunderstand me, I absolutely believe she will be a multiple Major winner. It’s just that so many, including me, have piled such heavy expectations on Maddie’s shoulders that the weight of losses, and the criticism she has received, has been unfair to her. The legendary Chris Evert has often spoken about how today’s WTA tour is not the same as when she was a top player and there were no real challenges until the quarterfinals of tournaments. Now, even top players can get ousted in round one. Top seed Angelique Kerber and 7th seed Johanna Konta both lost in the first round of Roland Garros 2017. I’ll go even further and say that today’s WTA doesn’t allow young guns to just accumulate title after title without some growing pains. Martina Hingis is probably the last teenager to come out the gate and torch everybody. Players like Kerber, Li Na and Francesca Schiavone won their first Major in singles at advanced ages (for tennis). Kerber was the WTA Player of the Year last season, winning her first two Majors at 28. Maddie is only 22…and a multiple WTA title winner. The tennis world should back off and let Keys progress at her own pace. If she realizes her Major dreams, few will be happier for her than me. But if she doesn’t, that’s okay too. Just take it day by day. And today I am pleased to see her open up her 2017 Roland Garros campaign with a win over Ashleigh Barty, 6-3 6-2. She was very impressive. Even had she lost, I would caution tennis fans not to jump off the Maddie bandwagon. You can expect her to win Majors. Just don’t expect it on some predetermined timetable.
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12 MADISON KEYS d. Ashleigh Barty, 6-3 6-2