When it comes to big hitters on the WTA Tour, Madison Keys comes to mind. Keys epitomizes first-strike tennis. She has a massive serve and bludgeoning groundstrokes.
Keys’ power game has taken her to four quarterfinal finishes, four semifinal finishes, and one runner-up appearance at grand slam tournaments. She also has one WTA 1000 title and a fourth-place finish at the 2016 Summer Olympics in her extensive resume.
Keys certainly has the talent to win a major, but she has lacked the consistency to do so. Winning a major requires a player to win seven consecutive main draw matches. On any given day, Keys can beat any player in the world, as evidenced by her defeat of Iga Swiatek at the 2022 Cincinnati Open. Swiatek would go on to win the US Open just a few weeks later. On an off day, Keys can lose to about any player in the top 100.
A primary reason why winning a major is so difficult is that a player has to maintain a high level of play for two weeks. Keys has gotten to the business ends of majors but has never achieved the ultimate goal. Keys made the final of the 2017 US Open, where she fell apart against Sloane Stephens. In her four other semifinal appearances at majors, she failed to win a set.
Madison Keys is number 6 on the top ten WTA players yet to win a major
I see two paths to Keys winning her first major. The first path is that she catches fire for a fortnight and pummels every ball she sees. Jelena Ostapenko was able to do that in her run to the 2017 French Open title, but that style has extreme risks.
The second path is to try and add more shape to her rally balls. When she is healthy and injury-free, Keys is capable of waiting a few balls before going for an outright winner. With so many athletic players on tour, Keys would need to have the patience not to go too big too early.
Keys is one of the most difficult players to predict, as she is capable of winning tournaments even if she has been struggling in form. She undoubtedly will make the second week of more majors in the future. Time will tell if she has the consistency to go further.
Likelihood to win a Slam: Possible
Top Ten Countdown So Far:
Number 10 – Paula Badosa
Number 9 – Maria Sakkari
Number 8 – Coco Gauff
Number 7 – Belinda Bencic
Number 6 – Madison Keys