By Leighton Ginn
INDIAN WELLS — American Madison Keys returned from surgery for a left wrist injury she first suffered in 2015 and she said the emotions got to her when she walked onto the BNP Paribas Open.
“Walking out there today, I almost started crying. It’s just so great to be back,” said Keys, who defeated Mariana Duque-Marino 6-1, 7-5 to advance to the third round. ” We do get to do what we love. I think that’s really special, and I think sometimes we get really caught up in the winning and the losing and rankings and all of that. And at the end of the day, we get to play a sport that we love for our jobs, and just this whole time has made me realize how truly blessed I am to be able to do that.”
Keys said she suffered the injury at the US Open in 2015, but it wasn’t until last year’s Wimbledon when she realized she would need surgery. However, Keys was having a breakthrough year, so putting the brakes on her season was a tough decision.
“So the original plan was, Okay, after US Open, get it done, be ready for Australian Open,” Keys said. ” And then after US Open, there was the race to Singapore. To me, there is no way you’re going to get me off of a tennis court right now. Then it was, okay, we’re going to do everything we can to get to Singapore. And then, if you don’t make Singapore, we’ll call it there.”
Keys did reach the WTA Championship, the year-end event that features the world’s top eight players, by rising to No. 7 in the rankings. She went 1-2 in the round-robin portion of the tournament. By the time Keys got home at the end of October, she had surgery days later.
Because she delayed her surgery, she had to sit out the Australian Open, where she had her career breakthrough performance by reaching the semifinals in 2015.
“Hopefully that doesn’t happen again,” Keys said about missing the season-opening Australian swing. “Missing that was really tough. And to be completely honest, I didn’t watch much of it. But more than anything, it just made me want to come back to the court as quick as possible.”
Her victory on Saturday improved her career record at the BNP Paribas Open to 4-4. She will face Naomi Osaka in the third round. Osaka defeated Shuai Zhang 6-4, 6-2.