Keys finishes career-best 2016 on a high note

October 28, 2016 11:00 AM

By Ashley Marshall,

Madison Keys wrapped up her best-ever season at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals this week, and she is now guaranteed to enter the 2017 season as a Top 10 player for the first time in her career.

Keys came within one set of advancing to the semifinal of the eight-player, year-end tournament and within two sets of moving on as the top seed in her group.

The American was one of three Red Group players to go 1-2 in the round-robin format, beating Dominika Cibulkova in straight sets but falling to US Open champion Angelique Kerber and world No. 4 Simona Halep. Had Keys taken a set off Kerber in her final match, she would have advanced to the final four along with the world No. 1, who had already qualified.

Keys’ appearance in Singapore marked the first time the 21-year-old Rock Island, Ill., native has contested the WTA Finals. It also means she will finish the year inside the Top 10 for the first time, after improving to her current No. 7 from No. 18 in the world at the end of 2015.

In fact, Keys’ has continued to climb the rankings in each of her professional seasons. After finishing the 2012 season at No. 149, Keys’ broke into the Top 100 in 2013, where she ended at No. 37. Twelve months later, Keys was at No. 31.

The 5-foot-10 right-hander won her second career title this summer at the Wimbledon tune-up event in Birmingham, England, and she reached the final of tournaments in Rome and Montreal – meaning she contested a trophy on grass, clay and hard courts this season.

In addition, Keys made her Olympic Games debut in Rio, Brazil, in August, and she also helped Team USA defeat Australia in the Fed Cup World Group Playoffs in Brisbane in April.

Keys, ranked second among American women behind only No. 2 Serena Williams, proved this year she has the game to rival any of her peers. She recorded victories over seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams, French Open champion Garbiñe Muguruza, two-time major winners Svetlana Kuznetsova and Petra Kvitova and 2015 US Open finalist Roberta Vinici – all Top 10 players – this season alone.

Keys reached the fourth round or better of all four Grand Slam events this season – a feat matched only by Serena and Agnieszka Radwanska – building on a successful 2015 campaign that saw her reach the semis in Melbourne and the quarters at Wimbledon.