Wild card Danielle Collins barely blinked on match point on Saturday as she blocked a volley into the open court to seal her 6-3, 7-6(1) second-round victory against US Open finalist Madison Keys at the BNP Paribas Open.
Maybe she thought she was merely falling into line with other American upset winners over the last 24 hours, but make no mistake, this was a biggie.
This was only the second time Collins, ranked 116th and making her first main draw appearance, had played a Top-20 player as she just wrapped up her first year on tour. It was the first loss to a wild card for Keys, the No. 15 seed, at a WTA tournament.
“I think the biggest thing today is I don’t think I managed my nerves very well,” said Keys, who hasn’t advanced past the fourth round at Indian Wells in eight tries. “Coming into this tournament, I always think I’m a little bit nervous and I put a lot of expectations on myself this time around. I think the biggest thing was being nervous, not moving very well and I think that showed itself.”
Keys, who was mistake-prone throughout, was serving for the match when Collins broke back. Keys committed five unforced errors in the tiebreaker.
Keys’ coach Lindsey Davenport, a Tennis Channel analyst, called it “wakeup call for Maddie. You have to want it more than your opponent. [Collins] was much more motivated today to win that match.”
In other matches Saturday, defending champion Elena Vesnina overcame an early blip, eliminating American CiCi Bellis, 2-6, 6-1, 6-1 and No. 4 seed Elina Svitolina advanced past Mona Barthel, 6-4, 6-3.
Collins joins other second-round American upset winners Sachia Vickery, who came out of qualifying to knock off No. 3 seed Garbine Muguruza, and 16-year-old wild card Amanda Anisimova, who defeated No. 23 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Wild card Caroline Dolehide also scored an impressive, come-from-behind victory over Shelby Rogers in the first round.
“I do laugh a lot of the time because they’re always talking about the teenagers on tour and I’m like ‘That was me,’” Keys said. “But it’s great and I think in women’s tennis … there’s always this great group of teenage girls who are figuring it out and having big wins and I think a lot of them are going to be around to stay.”
Both US Open finalists have struggled a bit to find their footing since September, winner Sloane Stephens going 0-6 in 2017 after playing Keys and 2-3 in 2018 coming into Indian Wells. And Keys lost her only post-Open match last year, and after a quarterfinal appearance at the Australian Open, lost in the second round to CiCi Bellis at Doha.