Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Could Laura Robson and Madison Keys Be in the Top Ten This Time Next Year?

(June 25, 2013)--18-year-old Madison Keys and 19-year-old Laura Robson are two of the most exciting teenagers on tour right now, and each came through with big wins at Wimbledon today to reach the second round.

Is each both at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to realizing their massive amounts of potential?

Both were teen prodigies that ignited the passion of tennis fans in search of the next best thing at a very young age. Robson won junior Wimbledon at 14, and Keys became the seventh-youngest player in WTA history to win a professional match when she defeated Alla Kudryavtseva in Ponte Vedra Beach in 2009.

For Robson, who became the first British woman to upset a top ten player at Wimbledon in 15 years on Tuesday, expectations have been sky-high since her professional breakthrough at the 2012 U.S. Open. She has climbed as high as No. 35 in the rankings, but she has plateaued there, seemingly plagued by inconsistency, a lack of fitness, and nerves. Keys, too, has had her high points, but she's been inconsistent too and hasn't been past the quarterfinals at a WTA event to date.

The potential has certainly been there for a while.

So is it time? Are Keys and Robson on the cusp of taking things higher at Wimbledon this year or, if not now, sometime in the not too distant future?

Lindsay Davenport, for one, is eager to see it. "I'd love to see that," said Davenport. "For so long in women's tennis we've seen some players come up that haven't had those big weapons. Madison Keys we all know, and Sloane Stephens (Robson was also mentioned in the discussion, though Davenport didn't mention her in this quote), they have the ability to finish the point. They have that big weapon. A lot of times, you can't teach that. You can't learn that in your twenties."

SI.com's Jon Wertheim thinks there is room for some new players inside the WTA's current top ten. "I think there's a big three [in women's tennis]. After that, there's a couple of soft spots. Sara Errani dropped out in round one... Li Na is north of 30. There's some room for some of these young players to really sort of infiltrate that top ten--that's not crazy talk."

Davenport doesn't think it's crazy talk, but the three-time Grand Slam champion knows that it won't be easy.. "It take consistency and it takes commitment, and we'll see from these youngsters that are 18, 19, 20 now, if they have that."

Keys will face 30th-seeded Mona Barthel of Germany in round two, while Robson will take on Mariana Duque-Marino of Colombia.

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