Keys thinks about facing Serena next, but loses instead

By: AP July 07,2018 - 08:34 PM

LONDON — Madison Keys started thinking ahead to facing Serena Williams at Wimbledon. Here’s the problem: Keys was playing someone else at the time.

And so Keys, the U.S. Open runner-up and French Open semifinalist who was seeded 10th at the All England Club, went from a big lead to a real tussle in a test of wild momentum swings and wound up losing her third-round match to 120th-ranked qualifier Evgeniya Rodina 7-5, 5-7, 6-4 Friday.

“Honestly,” Keys said, “I think today was a massive mishandle of nerves.”

She was ahead 5-2 and seemingly comfortably on her way to the expected victory when everything went awry.

“I felt my mind go and move on,” Keys acknowledged. “I don’t think I did a good job of keeping in the moment and playing the person who was in front of me.”

That was Rodina, a 29-year-old Russian who entered the day never having made it to the fourth round at any Grand Slam tournament, with a career tour-level winning percentage of .408, and zero victories over anyone ranked in the top 20.

“Of course, I am surprised a little bit,” Rodina said afterward, “because I won.”

After digging herself into that early deficit, Rodina won nine games in a row to grab the first set and move ahead 4-0 in the second.

“I was distracted for a game or two, and then I became more nervous because I felt like I let a lead slip. … I started playing passive. I kind of started playing not to lose, which doesn’t usually work out well for me,” Keys said.

“Then,” she added, “it kind of quickly spiraled.”

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