US Open runner-up and No. 15 seed Madison Keys crashed out of Indian Wells in her opening match, falling to world No. 117 Danielle Collins in straight sets on Saturday.
Keys, who was playing for the first time since her first round loss in Doha, where she was struggling with the flu that forced her to withdraw from the Dubai tournament, fell 6-3, 7-6 (1) to Collins in the second round.
The 24-year-old Collins, a two-time NCAA champion, was facing a top-20 player for just the second time in her career and passed the test with flying careers to set up a third round with 18-year-old Russian Sofya Zhuk.
“I think the biggest thing is I don’t think I managed my nerves very well. Coming into this tournament I always feel like I’m a little bit nervous. I think I put a lot of expectations on myself this time around. I think the biggest thing was feeling nervous, not moving very well and it just showed itself in big moments,” said Keys after her defeat.
Indian Wells has never been a place that brought the best out of Keys. The farthest she has gone in the California desert was reaching the last-16 here in 2017.
“I think I always want to do well and I’ve never really done great here so I think it’s always just trying to be better and have that good Indian Wells tournament and I think sometimes I put too much pressure on myself playing here,” explained Keys, who received a coaching violation during the match with Collins.
“I definitely think these slow, high-bouncing, gritty courts don’t completely play to my favour, and especially days like this where it’s heavier and kind of rainy. It’s not perfect and I think it’s just one of those things where I have to be so good mentally about staying in points and building points and not going for things too soon and on a day like today where I’m nervous and not handling things perfectly, it’s just kind of a bad combination.”
Collins, who excelled on the college tennis circuit playing for University of Virginia, earned a wildcard into the main draw as the best performing player at the Oracle Challenger Series of WTA 125k events, having won Newport Beach in January and reaching the quarter-finals at Indian Wells last week.
“I think she’s very crafty, she gets a ton of balls back, she was serving pretty well. More than anything she’s just really good at resetting the point over and over again,” Keys said of her fellow American.
Indian Wells has witnessed multiple surprises so far this week, with a host of teenagers enjoying breakthroughs on both the women’s and men’s sides.
Keys, now 23 years old, was one of those rising teens not too long ago herself.
“I do laugh a lot of the times because they’re always talking about the teenagers on tour and I’m just like ‘that was me once’. But it’s great and I think women’s tennis you see it so often, I think we’re seeing a little bit more on the men’s side, but women’s tennis there’s always this great group of teenage girls who are figuring it out and having some big wins and I think a lot of them are going to be around to stay,” she said.
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