2016 WTA Finals player profile: Madison Keys

After a terrific season that has seen her reach three Premier finals on three different surfaces, and winning one of them to make her top 10 début, Madison Keys will look to end the season on the highest of highs at her first WTA Finals.

2016 WTA Finals player profile: Madison Keys
Madison Keys celebrates after winning a point during her third-round match against Naomi Osaka at the 2016 U.S. Open. | Photo: Elsa/Getty Images

For years, Madison Keys’ talent has never been in question. Often regarded as the future of American women’s tennis, Keys has drawn countless comparisons with the Williams sisters since making her professional début at the age of 14. However, a strong 2016 season has given her the confidence to make a name for herself amongst the world’s best, which has also seen her crack the top 10 and qualify for her first WTA Finals in the process.

Reviewing Keys’ Dream 2016 Season

Despite producing one of the biggest games on tour, Keys has always fallen victim to her own inconsistencies, struggling to produce the bold, first-strike tennis that all tennis fans have come to expect from the WTA Rising Star—until now.

Madison Keys celebrates after defeating Carla Suárez Navarro in the third round of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. | Photo: Luis Acosta/AFP
Madison Keys celebrates after defeating Carla Suárez Navarro in the third round of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. | Photo: Luis Acosta/AFP

In a season that has seen her go 46-15 on the year, make the second week at all four majors, and add a second title and two more finals to her résumé, Keys’ refreshing consistency has seen her go from being ranked as low as 25 in the world earlier this spring to her current career-high ranking of number 7 in the world.

However, the American certainly hasn’t had it her own way, especially in the first few months of the season. Starting her season at the Australian Open, Keys battled past a series of potentially dangerous opponents to reach the second week, where her own body would, unfortunately, become her worst enemy.

Madison Keys takes a medical timeout to treat an injury during her fourth-round match against Zhang Shuai at the 2016 Australian Open. | Photo: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images
Madison Keys takes a medical timeout to treat an injury during her fourth-round match against Zhang Shuai at the 2016 Australian Open. | Photo: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

After taking the opening set over Chinese qualifier Zhang Shuai, Keys began to struggle with a left thigh injury that seemed to get progressively worse as the match progressed. Taking full advantage, Zhang, spurred on by the partisan crowd, powered to a three-set victory over the American, who was obviously far from her best.

After fully recovering from that devastating injury, Keys returned to competition a little over a month later in Indian Wells, where she was stunned by fellow American Nicole Gibbs in her opening match of the week, before rebounding nicely in Miami two weeks later, losing to then-world number two Angelique Kerber.

Madison Keys hits a backhand during her semifinal match against Angelique Kerber at the 2016 Miami Open presented by Itaú. | Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Madison Keys hits a backhand during her semifinal match against Angelique Kerber at the 2016 Miami Open presented by Itaú. | Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

But it was in The Eternal City where everything seemed to change for the 21-year-old American. Despite not considering the thick red dirt to be her favourite surface, Keys thrived on the courts of the Foro Italico despite never having won back-to-back matches in three previous appearances. Earning wins over the likes of Petra Kvitova and Garbiñe Muguruza in the process, Keys reached the biggest final of her career at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, eventually losing out to then world number one Serena Williams in an entertaining final.

After equaling her best-ever showing at the French Open just two weeks later, the WTA Rising Star followed up a strong clay court season with an even better grass court season, highlighted by her second career title at the Aegon Classic in Birmingham, a result that propelled her into the top 10 for the first time in her career.

Madison Keys poses with the Maud Watson trophy after defeating Barbora Strycova in the final of the 2016 Aegon Classic. | Photo: Steve Bardens/Getty Images
Madison Keys poses with the Maud Watson trophy after defeating Barbora Strycova in the final of the 2016 Aegon Classic. | Photo: Steve Bardens/Getty Images

With another second week showing at Wimbledon under her belt, Keys headed back overseas for this year’s North and Southern American hard court swing, where she reached her third final of the year in Montréal, losing out to old foe Simona Halepand placed fourth at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, losing out in the bronze medal match to Petra Kvitova.

After equaling last year’s showing at her home Slam, the U.S. Open, Keys traveled back to Asia for the final leg of the arduous 2016 season, where she would put up another set of superb results. A quarterfinal showing in Wuhan and a semifinal in Beijing were enough to keep her hopes of qualifying for Singapore alive, but she needed to do well in Linz, one of the few indoor tournaments of the season, to secure her spot at the year-end championships.

Madison Keys hits a running forehand during her quarterfinal match against Petra Kvitova at the 2016 China Open. | Photo: Etienne Oliveau/Getty Images
Madison Keys hits a running forehand during her quarterfinal match against Petra Kvitova at the 2016 China Open. | Photo: Etienne Oliveau/Getty Images

Despite pulling out in the semifinal due to illness, the American became the seventh player to punch her ticket to Singapore, thereby accomplishing one of the biggest goals of her season.

Keys’ Record Against the Elite Eight

Against the rest of the field, Keys holds a combined 10-13 lifetime record, though she does hold perfect records against Muguruza, Cibulkova, and Kuznetsova, who were the last three to qualify for the prestigious year-end championships.

Player Lifetime Record Record This Year
Angelique Kerber 1-5 0-2 (two defeats came in Miami and Rio)
Agnieszka Radwanska 1-5 0-0
Simona Halep 1-3 0-2 (two defeats came at Wimbledon and in Montréal)
Karolina Pliskova 0-0 0-0
Garbiñe Muguruza 2-0 1-0 (only meeting/victory this year came in Rome)
Dominika Cibulkova 3-0 0-0
Svetlana Kuznetsova 2-0 0-0