American players Bjorn Fratangelo and Madison Keys are one of few professional tennis couples currently active in the tour. For years — even before they began dating four years ago — Fratangelo has asked Keys to play mixed doubles together. At the US Open on Saturday, they finally made their team debut. Brazilian Marcelo Demoliner and Australian Ellen Perez, however, defeated the Americans 6-4, 6-3, but it still turned out to be an outing to remember for the couple. For Fratangelo and Keys, to play together and in front of their home crowd happened to be an enjoyable experience despite losing the match.
“He finally wore me down,” Keys was quoted as saying by the atptour.com. “I was always just saying I was going to be so nervous and I was going to have to try so hard, but he finally said, ‘We’ll just have some fun.’ I’m very happy that we did it. Of all the memories you have of all the matches, it’s obviously the people you are with who make those moments,” Keys said. “To be able to have a moment on court together I think is definitely something that is going to stick in my mind.”
It is to be noted that Keys lived in Boca Raton, Florida from the age of 10, and Fratangelo moved there when he turned pro before the start of 2013. The pair trained at the same facility, and they were apparently part of a group of friends that was close. Later, Fratangelo moved to Orlando, while Keys moved there a month later. In 2017, they reportedly began dating. Fratangelo revealed that he always wanted to play mixed doubles together with Keys.
“We had to do it once. If we never do it again, fine. I would like to, though,” Fratangelo said. “It was a lot of fun, but it’s no secret that maybe this year for her has been a bit of a struggle. [It was] just to have some fun on court with me and play and try to get a win and if not, just have an hour of laughs and fun. It’s good for everybody.”
Keys then added: “He was kind of just telling me what to do and I was doing whatever he told me. He was the boss.”
Fratangelo said: “I’m a little more of a strategist out there. I don’t have her raw power and I’m 5’11, 175 [pounds]. I need to think my way through things. She kept asking me, ‘Where am I serving? What am I doing?’ I was like, ‘Alright, let’s go T and I go or I stay.’”
Keys will now know what to expect from their partnership, while Fratangelo relished this experience. “Now I think I can maybe not be as nervous next time,” Keys said. “I was just incredibly nervous for some reason. I think it’s just because I wanted to win for myself, but I also wanted to win for him.”
Fratangelo added, “I think just to play with someone who you love and who you care about the most [is special]. I had a lot of fun out there with her. We were joking a lot on the changeovers. I thought we could have done pretty well, but we ran into a pretty good duo today. They played well, and that’s it. Maybe we’ll play again next year.”