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WTA Ladies Tennis Update From Charleston Via Cignarelli’s Volvo Car Vantage Point

It was a Dutch delight for first-time #VolvoCarOpen champ @kikibertens, who saved a match point in her semi before blazing to the title. – Photo by @VolvoCarOpen via Twitter.



Madison Keys is currently in the top ten of the world’s most exceptional tennis players. Coached by former world champion, Lindsay Davenport, Keys has a massive forehand, a big serve, decent movement, good hands, an acceptable backhand and a growing confidence in her game. What she lacks is a clay court title on the WTA tour. In today’s semi-final – rain pushed the finals back a day – Keys battled Kiki Bertens for a spot in the championship match. She lost 6-4, 6-7, 7-6.


Belief is the highest form of confidence. For the number one player in the world, there is a belief that he/she is truly the best player at that moment in time. The champion believes that the critical points will end up in her favor, that under pressure she will execute the shots successfully, that getting broken won’t rattle her because she will break back. For everyone else, they press on the big points, make errors going for too much or back down when the pressure mounts, and become rattled when they get broken because they now envision themselves losing the set.


Whether Madison believes she can win a clay court tournament remains to be seen. Kiki Bertens is one hell of a tennis player but Keys had two chances to serve for the match. At one point, she also had a match point. In the crucial moments, there’s a little voice in some players’ heads that whispers something like, “You haven’t won on clay and you probably never will.” Sometimes that voice escalates and becomes overwhelming, drowning out the voice of the champion sitting in the coaches box, drowning out the positive thoughts which drive one toward victory, drowning out the tactical voice bouncing around one’s brain. Sometimes that voice becomes so loud, you succumb to it and bow down to its demands.


Perhaps that voice got Madison today. “Expectations” “should win” “the better player,” are words which can erode confidence when things aren’t going well. Belief can be fickle. I think Keys will eventually get that title though. She’s been going deep into tournaments a lot lately. At some point, she’ll believe she belongs there.


Lesson: Rudyard Kipling’s “IF” is in the walkway at Wimbledon for a reason. Those two imposters, triumph and disaster, can produce some chaos in the mind. The one you choose to listen to is the one you will believe.

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