Four weeks after a second wrist surgery, Madison Keys made a grand return to tennis as she strolled to a comfortable 6-4 6-2 victory over Nao Hibino in the first round of the Wimbledon Championships, taking the win after just one hour and six minutes of play.
After a shaky start to the match, Keys managed to control proceedings and win the tight first set 6-4 after 40 minutes of play with some consistent play which produced some great results. The second set was much better for the American as Hibino lost the rhythm, eventually falling in straight sets.
Keys overcomes slow start to win the first set
Serving to start the match, Hibino showed no signs of the early pressure as she sealed the opening game with a powerful ace. Unforced errors started to plague Keys early on as Hibino was able to return almost everything, and unexpectedly managed to outhit the American. This resulted in the best possible start for Hibino, who took the early break and opened up a 2-0 lead. With the Japanese looking to consolidate the break, Keys won a very crucial cat-and-mouse point at 30-30 as she managed to earn her first break point of the match, looking to break straight back. The American finally managed to level the scores when Hibino made a mistake at the net, allowing her higher-ranked opponent to convert her third break point in the game.
Two consecutive aces then saw Keys own a 30-0 lead in her service game, but she was pegged back by Hibino, who managed to score two winners and outhit Keys, earning a break point. However, the American was determined to hold her serve as she came up with some powerful groundstrokes to have her first service hold of the day. Out of nowhere, Keys took the lead for the first time in the match as she came from 40-0 down to break her opponent’s serve, winning her third straight game to control proceedings.
Unexpectedly, Hibino broke straight back as she looked to provide a very tough fight to the defending quarterfinalist, leveling the scores at 3-3. After an exchange of comfortable service holds, it was Hibino who let loose at the most crucial moment of the set. Serving at 15-15, the Japanese made three consecutive unforced errors and gifted Keys the golden opportunity to serve out the first set. Not disappointing her fans, Keys handled the pressure well and served out the set to 30 after 40 minutes of play.
Keys strolls through the second set
Keys made the perfect start to the second set as she rode on her momentum to get the break of service in the opening game, looking to close out the match in straight sets. Four unforced errors from Hibino then saw the 17th seed consolidate the break in comfortable fashion, opening a 2-0 lead. The Japanese got herself on the scoreboard in the second set when she managed to force errors out of the solid groundstrokes of Keys, getting the encouraging hold of service.
Keys started strolling from then on, easily holding her serve before sealing the second break with a powerful backhand winner. The victory looked certain to be Keys’ when she consolidated the break to love, putting herself just one game away from winning the match. Despite Hibino being able to catch a consolation game, Keys managed to keep her focus and closed out the match after just 66 minutes of play, sending herself into the second round.
Stats Corner: Keys just too consistent for Hibino
Hibino had a fair winners-unforced errors count as she ended the match with no difference in the numbers, hitting 15 winners and errors throughout the 66-minute affair. Keys performed better in that aspect as the hard-hitter blasted 20 winners past the Japanese with just 14 unforced errors being produced in the process. Putting in 68 percent of first serves, Hibino only won 53 percent of those points and failed to make an impact on her weak second serves, winning just a total of seven points off the second serve in the match. Keys was much more efficient despite putting in only 48 percent of first serves, but managed to win a respectable 56 percent of second serve points against her opponent.