MELBOURNE, VIC — One of the biggest upset victories of the 2022 Women's Australian Open belongs to Rock Island native Madison Keys.
The 26-year-old is moving onto the second round after taking down 2020 tournament champion Sofia Kenin on Monday in Melbourne, Australia.
Keys entered the match listed at No. 56 in the final 2021 WTA Rankings, coming out with a 7-6(2) 7-5 win over fellow American and the tournament's 11th-seeded Kenin.
"At this point every first round is tough, but when you have to go up against a Grand Slam champion (Kenin) it's never easy," Keys told AO Media following the victory. "I think knowing that she was going to compete so well, I just had a really good mentality and attitude. I had a couple of opportunities I didn’t really capitalize upon and I was able to reset and continue to play well."
The new year has shown a bit of a resurgence for Keys who is coming off a victory at the Adelaide International on Jan. 15, her first title since 2019.
Keys recalled reaching the semifinals of the 2015 Australian Open where she was defeated by eventual champion Serena Williams.
That experience brought back memories of a near Grand Slam for Keys in what was arguably her breakthrough year.
"I had my first real run in a (Grand) Slam here, I missed last year, so absolutely ecstatic to be back in Melbourne. It would mean the world to have another run here," Keys said.
A bout with COVID last year kept Keys out of the 2021 Australian Open who said she struggled and put too much pressure on herself to try and play catch-up with other competitors.
"I'm not taking it quite as seriously, that's the biggest difference this year," Keys said. "One of the first things that made me snap out of it was this girl on Tiktok. Her name is 'Tinx'. She’s constantly saying 'comparison is the thief of joy'. It just really made me change my perspective on comparing everything I've done and doing to everyone around me. It was just making me miserable."
The 2017 U.S. Open runner-up moves on to face Romanian Jaqueline Cristan in the second round. The matchup between Keys and Cristian is scheduled for 8 p.m. (Central Time) on Tuesday.