New York - Madison Keys hit a low point in May and doubted
she could ever win another tennis match. Now she's playing in the US Open
Keys completed the first all-American US Open women's
semi-final line-up since 1981 on Wednesday by beating Estonian qualifier Kaia
Kanepi 6-3, 6-3 at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
"I'm really excited and proud of all of us for getting
this far," Keys said. "USA all the way."
The comeback tale began when she lost four matches in a row
at Miami, Charleston, Madrid and Rome and was ousted in the second round of the
French Open, pushing her into her second left wrist surgery in 10 months.
"There were definitely a lot of dark moments,"
Keys said. "Having all the things that were thrown at me this whole year
and having some really low moments.
"There was a moment where I came off the court and I
said, 'I don't know if I'm ever going to win a tennis match again'."
But the scene brightened when she won her third career WTA
title at Stanford, winning the final over her US Open semi-final foe CoCo
Vandeweghe, whom she also beat at Cincinnati in her last US Open tuneup.
And then came a run to match her best Slam performance from
the 2015 Australian Open.
"To have this really feels good and makes me really
proud of myself," Keys said. "This means the world to me. If someone
told me this is where I would be right before Wimbledon I wouldn't have
She wouldn't have given you great odds just hours before her
quarter-final, pondering her win over fourth-ranked Elina Svitolina, her
ranking edge and the fact she would be expected to complete the all-USA line-up.
"Sitting in the city was starting to make me
crazy," Keys said. "I was really nervous. On top of coming back after
having a big win and then all of a sudden being in a match where you're
supposed to win, it was a lot - and then being the last American. It was really
Keys saved three break points in the third game of the
match, broke in the fourth and held through for the set, then broke to open the
second set and rolled from there.
"Feeling like I was getting on a roll definitely helped
relax and loosen up to play some of my best tennis," Keys said.
Keys said she had been fearful of surgery but is so glad now
she went through with it.
"I feel like wrist surgery is all the rage right now. I
feel like everyone is getting it done," she said. "There was
definitely the fear that a lot of players have struggled coming back from
There have been comebacks aplenty with Sloane Stephens out 11
months after left foot surgery and Venus Williams back in the top five for the
first time since 2011, the year she was diagnosed with the strength-sapping
ailment Sjogren's Syndrome.
"The game being taken away from you really makes you
realise how much you love it," Keys said.
"And it takes a lot of the pressure off just because
you remember why you do it. It's not to win matches and make people happy. It's
just because you truly love being out there.
"In a strange way, it was probably one of the best
things to happen to all of us, just to remind us how much we love it and how
lucky you are to be able to do this for your job."