Madison Keys broke into the world’s top 10, at the age of just 21, after beating Barbora Strycova in the final of the Aegon Classic Championships 6-3, 6-4.
On a grey day in Edgbaston, Madison Keys blew away her experienced opponent with powerful hitting that rarely allowed Strycova to entertain the idea that she could break the American’s serve.
The first set was over in just 27 minutes. Keys asserted her dominance immediately, with fierce groundstrokes that prevented Strycova from finding her rhythm or gaining a foothold in the match. In only the second game, Keys broke Strycova’s serve. Taking advantage of the space she had created with some persistently precise forehands, Keys struck a wonderful backhand down-the-line winner, which sailed past a helpless Strycova, and paved the way for her to take the first set. The final game of the set encapsulated the dynamic of the match. Relentless groundstrokes from Keys tested Strycova’s backhand and movement, before the point was calmly finished with a volleyed winner. This provided Keys with a solid 30-0 platform in the game, and she soon claimed the first set after Strycova crumbled under the pressure of Keys’ groundstrokes.
Strycova, as Keys stated in the post-match press conference, ‘definitely raised her level’ after the first set, and proved a much tougher opponent in the second. The score remained on serve until the 9th game, when Keys demonstrated her maturity by improving her performance towards the business end of the second set, and seized the opportunity Strycova’s weak serves offered her. Facing a serve that rarely pushed much over 100mph, Keys increased the intensity of her returns, and forced the errors from her Czech opponent. A double fault when 0-40 down soon followed. Keys then maintained her composure to hold her serve and complete the victory in just 80 minutes.
Having won her other WTA title on the grass courts of Eastbourne in 2014, Madison Keys certainly appears to favour this surface. And still only 21, winning Wimbledon is undoubtedly a realistic target for this outstanding player.