Why Madison Keys Doesn't Have A Cow After Loss At French Open

AP Photo/Christophe Ena

Madison Keys, who had 32 unforced errors in her straight-sets loss on Saturday at the French Open, can't wait to dig her heels into grass.

PARIS -- Early in her career, Maria Sharapova famously compared her clay-court form to a "cow on ice." Madison Keys took the analogy a species further in describing her form in a straight-sets loss Saturday, and on clay in general: "I'm kind of sliding all over like a hippo on ice. Not a cow."

Which poses the question: Which is worse? A cow on ice or a hippo on ice?

"I think the hippo is slower," Keys said, "and probably slides a little more."

AP Photo/Christophe Ena

Keys, who made it to the Australian Open semifinals, says she's unsure of her footing on the Paris clay.

Ah, but the hippo also would have a lower center of gravity.

"True," Keys said. "I guess I would have that going for me. Having a lower center of gravity while being slower. So I wouldn't have a face-plant."

While not quite a face-plant, the American women only managed to go 2-2 on Saturday. In addition to Keys, Irina Falconi dropped her match against Julia Goerges in straight sets. Serena Williams and Sloane Stephens, however, both won to set up an all-American showdown on Monday.

Keys is one of America's rising stars -- at 20 years old and No. 16 in the rankings, she is one slot below Venus Williams and also the youngest player of any nationality in the top 30 -- but she is no fan of European clay. Especially the clay at Roland Garros. She advanced to the third round for the first time this year but lost in straight sets to Switzerland's Timea Bacsinszky 6-4, 6-2 on Saturday.

"I think it's as relieving as every year," she said regarding her feelings about the end of the clay season. "I'm happier it came a couple rounds later this year, but equally happy to be moving onto grass."

Asked whether Petra Kvitova's success on clay provides reason for hope because some see similarities in their games, Keys replied: "It's kind of the light at the end of the tunnel that one day it will be like, 'I feel comfortable on this.' Every year it's a little bit more and a little bit easier. But it's still tough."

Sharapova, of course, has transformed from a cow on ice to perhaps the best woman on Roland Garros clay. Asked whether she might want to consult with Sharapova for some clay tips, Keys replied, "I don't think that would go great. I think she's figured it out for sure, but she probably has some trade secrets she's going to keep secret."

Although frustrated on the court, Keys was in an upbeat mood during her post-match interview. For one thing, she got over the loss by letting "out some expletives in the locker room." For another, because of the extra gap between the French Open and Wimbledon this year, she plans to fly home Sunday morning. Wimbledon begins June 29. "I've done two years now where I've stayed here the entire time and been ready to drop off the bridge," she said. "The added week is nice because you can go home and still have a couple tournaments leading up to Wimbledon."

And before she goes, Keys plans to hit the shops on the Champs-Elysees for "retail therapy."

She probably won't be buying any clay souvenirs.

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