Keys upset as Swiss take
Fed Cup opener
Arthur Kapetanakis | April 20, 2019
SAN ANTONIO – Swiss No.1 Viktorija Golubic drew first blood against Team USA on Saturday, claiming the Fed Cup World Group playoff’s opening rubber with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Madison Keys.
It was a matchup that Swiss captain Heinz Günthardt billed as a classic: “tall girl with a lot of power [Keys] versus quick girl with a lot of variety [Golubic],” he previewed.
And while the American’s big game produced 13 winners, Golubic was able to frustrate her on the indoor hard courts, drawing 47 unforced errors and converting on four of 11 break points.
The match featured six deuce games—three on each players’ serve—and the Swiss won five of them, including the first four, to score a decisive edge. It was enough to earn the world No. 81 a surprise victory over Keys, who sits at No. 14 in the WTA Rankings.ADVERTISEMENT
“She played really well on the big points, when it mattered,” Keys said. “Overall, I just think I had a bad day … It’s tough when you have an opponent who, on the big points, is playing their best tennis.”
Golubic felt her early start set the tone for the upset: “I could feel at the beginning, it's so important, we have long games, and I kind of just really tried to be there for every point because I knew if I win those, it really means a lot for the match … It kind of gave me confidence.”
She served notice early by winning the first two games, and closed out the opening set by taking the final three games, from 3-2.
The crucial break came with Keys serving at 2-4. The American initially escaped a 15-40 hole with a big serve and forehand, but Golubic mixed up her game to draw two crucial errors from deuce. After a sharp-angled slice brought up her fourth break point of the game, a deep return handcuffed Keys to make it 5-2.
Golubic was efficient in serving out the set, winning four points in a row as the opener ended on Keys’ 22nd unforced error.
In set two, an early Keys hold put her ahead for the first time and raised the volume of the San Antonio crowd. She earned a break point in Golubic’s ensuing service game, as her ground strokes began to find their familiar venom.
But she could not convert in the 14-point game, which tied the match’s second game for the longest of the opening rubber.
Keys then saved two break points to head back to captain Kathy Rinaldi on the bench with a 2-1 edge. The next three games went on serve, before a pair of U.S. double faults gave the Swiss an opening at 3-all. Ironically, Golubic was able to survive nine doubles and avoid losing her serve in the match. The American could not overcome her freebies on this occasion, as Golubic edged closer to the finish line.
After a love hold, the Swiss won her fourth consecutive game to close out the match when Keys floated an approach shot long.
“It’s really disappointing when you lose in front of a home crowd,” she reflected. “It kind of makes your own disappointment a little bit worse.”
The good news for Keys is that she still has world No. 8 Sloane Stephens to pick her up in the tie’s second rubber, and another match of her own on tap for tomorrow.
“Right now, I’m just focused on going out and cheering Sloane on,” she said. “I’ll talk to Kathy and [coach] Lisa, figure out what I need to do better tomorrow.”
Barring an unlikely Swiss sweep, Keys will get her own opportunity to make amends on Sunday, in the tie’s fourth rubber against Timea Bacsinszky.