Unlocking Success on Madrid’s Clay 2024: Taylor Fritz and Madison Keys Embrace Strategy

Madrid, known for its fast-paced clay courts, has been a challenge for many American tennis players. However, Taylor Fritz and Madison Keys have defied expectations by embracing their strengths and strategies, leading to impressive performances in the Spanish capital.

“Finally really just honestly saying, ‘F-it, I’m just going to go out and do my best,'” Keys said in reference to her turn of events.

Unlocking Success on Madrid’s Clay 2024: Taylor Fritz and Madison Keys Embrace Strategy

In theory, American players ought to choose to compete in clay-court events in Madrid. The surface at the Caja Magica, which is set down and raised again annually, plays more like a hard court than it does at more traditional locations like Monte Carlo, Rome, and Paris. The ball also travels faster in the city’s high-altitude air. Under those circumstances, American players ought to be able to score points in the manner of their choice: as fast as possible.

“You’ll love Madrid,” everyone has said to me literally my entire career. It’s incredible. Madison Keys responded, “You’re going to do so well there,” this week in response to a question regarding the apparently US-friendly surroundings.

However, this power player hasn’t found the Spanish capital any more hospitable than any other clay-court competition, similar to almost all of her fellow Americans. Actually, less so.
“Every year, with the exception of one occasion, I have lost in the first or second round,” declared Keys, a Rome finalist and Roland Garros semifinalist.

She is not by alone. Since the tournament moved from hard courts to clay in 2009, no American man has advanced to the final in Madrid. Jessica Pegula was the first woman to reach the finals in the women’s division since Serena Williams took home the title two years prior. It appears that even though it dries a little faster, clay is still clay to Americans. We don’t learn to slide on it, mature on it, or base our playing techniques on it.

That was, at least, the impression up until this past week, when Taylor Fritz and John Keys both made unexpected runs to the semifinals. In unpredictable three-setters, Keys has eliminated Coco Gauff and Ons Jabeur, two players ranked in the top ten. In the quarterfinals on Wednesday, Fritz defeated Francisco Cerundolo in three sets and Hubert Hurkacz, the eighth seed. Fritz had a mediocre 3-3 record at the Caja Magica before to this year, and he had twice lost in qualifying.

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Keys claims that she eventually gave up worrying about how well she was expected to perform in Madrid.

“I was attempting to push things along, and I believe that everyone is aware that when you push things along, they seem to move farther and farther away from you,” the woman remarked.

“Finally, I’m just going to go out and try my best, and we’ll see what happens, so really just honestly saying, F-it.” After that, I truly feel as like I’ve managed to force myself to play some decent tennis here at last.

Fritz’s key to success this week has been keeping in mind that his serve, which is his greatest asset, functions consistently on all surfaces. He won 88 percent of his first-serve points against Hurkacz and fired ten aces; against Cerundolo, his serve kept him afloat when the Argentine found a groundstroke groove.

Fritz described Cerundolo as being extremely difficult to get through to. “It was very difficult from below.” I needed to persevere with my serve.
However, Fritz claims that the surface here works nicely for the remainder of his game.

Unlocking Success on Madrid’s Clay 2024: Taylor Fritz and Madison Keys Embrace Strategy

Regarding the Madrid dirt, he commented, “The bounces are still high and explosive, which is great for my forehand.” “It works great for me to just attack and serve.”

When Ben Shelton and Danielle Collins won clay-court titles in Houston and Charleston on the same day last month, I pondered whether this would mean greater things for the Americans when the circuit reached European red dirt. The depth of the American tennis pool at the present is demonstrated by the fact that two distinct American players, Fritz and Keys, would get to the semifinals in Madrid.

The United States has created a generation of players who are slightly more at ease with the clay game than previous generations, after placing more of a focus on it at the junior level throughout the last ten years.

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