They call it “The Zone” where nothing goes wrong for a player.
Pitchers have it a few times a year and Michael Jordan spoke about it a number of times.
In tennis, all the top players have experienced it one time or another, depending on the match.
Tonight, Madison Keys experienced it against CoCo Vandeweghe, when she dismantled her Fed Cup teammate 6-1 6-2, in the US Open Semifinals.
“I just felt really good, kind of just even in the first game,” Keys said. “I felt like everything was kind of working. Then I had a really good return game right off the bat.
“Then I was focusing on not telling myself that I was in the zone, and then I just kind of tried to keep my mind clear and just stay in that.”
That’s the real trick. It’s one thing being in the zone, but it’s another staying in it and tonight, Keys was able to remain in top form throughout her match.
It literally brought Vandeweghe to tears in her post match presser, because she couldn’t do anything against the 22 year-old.
So you have to wonder if Keys has what it takes to beat Sloane Stephens on Saturday in the final.
“I think Sloane is really good at defending, obviously, but I think we’re similar in the fact that we both like to try to attack and be on offense,” Keys said. “I would say she’s probably more comfortable defending and not going for bigger shots before me, but I would say we are very similar in a lot of ways.”
Stephens will present a different challenge for Keys. Unlike Vandeweghe, who plays a power game, her speed will make up for many of the well formed shots we saw tonight.
Stephens will track down balls sprayed all over the place, which Vandeweghe could not and that will make it a very interesting matchup.
So can she have the zone on Saturday? “If anyone knew how to do that, I think they would be, like, the richest person in the world,” Keys smartly responded and that’s what makes this matchup so compelling.
Keys would have beaten anyone tonight. It didn’t matter and Vendeweghe was the unfortunate victim. Saturday, though, will be a different match. Tonight she didn’t need the crowd, but during her runup to the semis, Keys spoke about how the crowd drove her to victory.
That works when you’re a young American playing nondescript foreign players, but who’s side are they going to be on when it’s two gals from the USA playing each other?
It’s going to make it interesting.
Keys has a good chance to win this match, as does Stephens, we will see how they start out and if they can get into the zone during the match.
Tonight, was easy. “I felt like once things started going, it just kind of fell into place, Keys said. “Luckily I was able to close it out the way that I did.”
Saturday may be a different story.
And that’s what makes this final so compelling.