Madison Keys has shown her ability to make an impact on the new grass court season with a 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 victory over Timea Babos in the first round of the Aegon Classic.
The 21-year-old Floridian, described last year as a future world number one by Serena Williams, moved swiftly into a 5-2 lead against a Hungarian opponent who beat her in the Wimbledon warmup event two years ago.
Keys then faltered while trying to serve out for the set, and trailed 3-0 in the tiebreaker.
“I was rushing too much,” Keys said. “But after that I got a read on her serve and served better myself.
The combination saw her ease through to the second round of the tournament.
“I’m more confident after the clay court season when I learnt how to figure stuff out better,” she said, referring to a sequence in Rome where she won a semifinal against Garbine Muguruza, who shortly afterward became the French Open champion.
“I would like to think I can win a trophy or two, but the main thing for me is to focus on consistency.”
Keys could face Petra Kvitova, a two-time Wimbledon champion, in the quarterfinals.
Belinda Bencic, the youngest player in the top 10 at 19, showed that she also talks a good game ahead of her opening match on Tuesday.
Bencic made her comeback after two months out with four matches on grass at Den Bosch in the Netherlands last week and begins against Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania.
The fourth-seeded Swiss player said she can improve on that performance this week. Bencic is also hoping for a chance to repeat her Toronto victory last year over Serena Williams, who is not in Birmingham.
“I gave her too much respect when I first played her but now try to ignore who she is,” Bencic said. “I wouldn’t want to play her at Wimbledon this year because it would be something like in the first round. But it might be nice to beat her in the final one day.”