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January 19, 2019

Madison Keys

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

M. KEYS/E. Mertens

6-3, 6-2

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. That was a pretty nifty match.
MADISON KEYS: 'Nifty' (smiling)?

Q. If you have a different word you want to fill in...
MADISON KEYS: 'Nifty' is good. I'm fine with it.

Q. How did you feel out there overall?
MADISON KEYS: I think I played really well today. I served well, especially in the first set, getting out of some breakpoint situations. I think she played really well, which just made me raise my level.

In the second set, being able to break a couple of times and bounce back from being broken back, overall I'm just really happy with how everything went today.

Q. Do you feel like you might have discovered a new strategy for starting the year: don't play any leadup tournaments?
MADISON KEYS: No. It's stressful. I would not recommend it (laughter).

Q. What makes it stressful?
MADISON KEYS: Just you know everyone has had a couple of matches going in, is feeling it out, figuring it out. They've gotten to get that first-match-of-the-year nerves out already, and it's not at a Grand Slam.

Q. If you just look at the lineup of matches, how it's shaping up in the fourth round, it feels like one of the strongest women's lineup in a long time. Is that how you assess it?
MADISON KEYS: I would 100% agree with you. There's a lot of really good third round matchups yesterday and today. It's not always the case. So seeing that, even fourth round, they're all tough. It's definitely shaping up to be a very interesting first Grand Slam of the year.

Q. How does that make you feel, being part of that?
MADISON KEYS: I mean, I'm still in, so I'm good.

Q. Why do you think that it's shaped up this way at this slam? Do you have a theory?
MADISON KEYS: I don't know. I think everyone is just playing really well. Even the upsets aren't really upsets. Everyone is just playing really good tennis.

I think more than anything, it's just the depth of tennis because everyone who is winning is really good. Pretty much everyone they've beaten is also very good. No matter which way it went, everyone was thinking it was a good match anyways.

Q. A lot of the players for a while now, maybe two years, longer, have been talking about the depth. That word comes up a lot. You guys are the ones that are handling it, seeing it, dealing with upsets. Do you feel at all in the conversations you have with people that people are finally getting that?
MADISON KEYS: I think so. I think people are finally realizing that some of the upsets on paper aren't actually upsets. We had eight different Grand Slam winners in the last two years. When was the last time that happened?

I think it's just showing there's a lot of really good women's tennis right now. I think it definitely seems like the fans are enjoying it. I guess we'll just have to keep dealing with it.

Q. You said last time that you were watching a lot of women's tennis. Put on your pundit hat. What do you make of Venus and Halep playing each other tonight, with the winner playing Serena? What do you think of either of those two possible matches? Asking you to do my job for me, forecasting.
MADISON KEYS: Either way, you know it's going to be good. You know it's going to be difficult on different levels. If it's Venus and Serena, it seems like they always play some of their best tennis, which no one can quite figure out how they do it against each other.

Then if it's Halep, her and Serena have had some epic matches. You know it's just two amazing tennis players who play very different games bringing out the best in each other.

I mean, honestly either way I don't think anyone's going to be upset.

Q. In terms of Serena-Halep, current No. 1 versus all-time No. 1, is that something you would see as a tantalizing prospect, both with credible claims to being the best at any given moment?
MADISON KEYS: I think so. The thing during their matches is they always are trying different things. You can see they're both pulling each other out of their comfort zone. That's when some of their best tennis happens. Some of the things that they come up with are unbelievable.

Watching it, it's really exciting because you know they're both going to kind of push each other to do what they usually don't want to do. I think that's why everyone loves that matchup so much.

Q. Elina, we know how good she is. Somehow in the slams she hasn't gotten that big result. Do you find that surprising?
MADISON KEYS: Surprising? Yes. I definitely think she has figured it out, obviously, in a lot of the other tournaments. It's difficult, obviously, to play well for however many matches it takes to win a Grand Slam.

But I think at the same time she's always deep in a slam. She's usually in the second week. I mean, it's a difference of winning one or two matches.

I definitely think that she's always a contender at a slam.

Q. Whenever Serena and Venus play, are you able to step away as a player and savor those matches as a fan? Does it mean any more to people other than them that these opportunities might be becoming less and less?
MADISON KEYS: Pretty much every match that I watch is mostly just to enjoy it and see how they're going to play. Venus and Serena, I mean, it's what everyone wants to watch.

I 100% just sit there and enjoy tennis, love watching them play. They were on when I was just starting. They were both massive inspirations for me to start playing tennis. So to be able to see that play out all of this time later when I'm actually in the same draw is really special.

Q. Do you remember the first meeting between them that captivated you?
MADISON KEYS: I think they've kind of all meshed together over the years. Like, there's bits and pieces. Every time everyone is just on the edge of their seat watching them and enjoying it.

Q. Could you imagine having to play one of your sisters?
MADISON KEYS: No. I feel like I'd want to beat the crap out of them, but also, like, struggle with that. As it was happening, I'd be like, Oh, that sucks, they're going to be sad later. But then older, big sister, I'd want to win.

Q. You were talking about how other players might have had more opportunities to play out their first-match nerves. Three matches into your season, do you feel like you've played those out? Are you on even keel with everyone else now or...
MADISON KEYS: I think throughout the year there's moments where you feel great, you feel really confident, your tennis is just clicking, you're not really thinking about it. Then there's times when you have to try a little bit harder, you're working through nerves, all of that.

So for this tournament specifically, I felt really good today. We'll see about next round and go from there.

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