Madison Keys Topples Wozniacki To Capture First Clay-Court Title In Charleston - UBITENNIS
Connect with us

WTA

Madison Keys Topples Wozniacki To Capture First Clay-Court Title In Charleston

The 24-year-old has scored her first WTA silverware of any kind since 2017.

Published

on

Madison Keys (@VolvoCarOpen on Twitter)

Madison Keys has become the ninth American player in history to win the Volvo Car Open in Charleston after overcoming Caroline Wozniacki 7-6(5), 6-3, in a heavy-hitting encounter.

 

The 24-year-old, who was runner-up in the tournament back in 2015, managed to go one step further this year with the help of her powerful shot-making. Illustrated by Keys’ six aces and 45 winners produced throughout the match. A stark contrast to Wozniacki’s tally of two and seven.

“Every time I come here (to Charleston) I feel like I’m at home and the support I have from everyone in the stands means the absolute world to me.” Keys said during the trophy presentation.

Heading into the showdown in Charleston, Wozniacki boasted a 2-0 head-to-head record against her American rival. Winning both of those matches in straight sets. However, this time round Keys found a formula to keep pressure on Wozniacki throughout a dramatic opening set. The all or nothing play from Keys saw her hit a series of breathtaking shots alongside some erratic errors. 25 winners to 24 unforced errors to be precise. Trading breaks during the early stages of the match, it was a tiebreaker that separated the two.

Keys’ fierce forehand put off her opponent, who hit a double fault to hand her a mini break for 5-3. A point later Keys secured a triple set point opportunity after a costly mistake from Wozniacki saw her leave the ball, which landed in. Prompting gasps of surprise from the crowd. Still, closing the set out wasn’t easy for the world No.18, who saw two chances come and go. Nevertheless, Keys prevailed on her third opportunity with the help of a winning backhand shot to clinch the opener after 75-minutes of tense play.

Continuing to stand firm behind her serve, Keys battled towards the finish title. During the second set it was a stroke of luck that helped her secure a breakthrough. A Wozniacki backhand into the net rewarded Keys a break point opportunity to extend her lead to a set and 4-2. An opportunity she seized with the help of a shot that tapped the top of the net before landing onto her opponent’s side of the court. Leaving the former Australian Open champion bemused about the situation.

Tasked with serving for her maiden clay-court title, Keys roared to two championship points against her frustrated rival. Victory was then secured with the help of a straightforward volley. Resulting in a fist clench and a roar of joy from the new Charleston champion.

The triumph extends Wozniacki’s drought on the clay. The Dane hasn’t won a title on the surface since the Brussel Open back in 2011. In total Wozniacki has won four titles on the clay, which is the eighth highest amount among active players on the WTA Tour.

“Congratulations on an incredible week and well played today. You were just too good for me.” She said in tribute to Keys.
“I want to thank my family in my box. You guys have always been there for me when I win or when I lose. Also, thank you Francesca (Schiavone). I feel like although my love for clay hasn’t always been there, this week has been very enjoyable.”

Keys’ triumph marks the first week of her reunion with coach Juan Todero, who worked with her during 2013 and 2014. Todero has previously mentored WTA players such as Monica Puig, Lauren Davis and Alison Riske.

“It was a really good first week for my coach and I. Hopefully we can keep this up at a kind of high bar.” Keys evaluated.

As a result of her title, Keys will rise to 14th in the WTA rankings when they are updated on Monday. Meanwhile, Wozniacki will be in 12th position.

WTA

Pliskova And Konta Advance To Rome Final

Johanna Konta edged world n.4 Kiki Bertens while Karolina Pliskova scored a straight-set victory against Maria Sakkari

Published

on

Johanna Konta in Rome during the 2019 Internazionali BNL d'Italia (photo Roberto Dell'Olivo)

After a washout on Wednesday and a double duty day on Thursday, the Internazionali BNL d’Italia were bracing for another wet afternoon on Saturday. Eventually, the very cold spell of Italian spring that has so far marred the 2019 Italian Open decided to spare the Foro Italico on the first day of the final weekend and allowed the two women’s singles semifinals to take place with only one very short interruption.

 

In the first match, 28-year-old Brit Johanna Konta came back from one set down and only two points away from defeat to overcome Mutua Madrid Open champion and world n.4 Kiki Bertens 5-7, 7-5, 6-2. The Dutch woman seemed to be in control of the match after she swooped the first set winning the last three games in a row (from 4-5 to 7-5) imposing her offensive and defensive game over a nervous and tentative Konta, who also failed to consolidate an initial break in the second set by losing her serve for the third time in a row. However, as the match progressed Konta started shaking off her initial jitters and held her subsequent service game with authority. At 4-5 30-30, a shanked smash pinched the line and the following forehand volley winner sealed the 5-5, signing a progressive decline in Berten’s sharpness and aggressiveness. “I think everything was hard today to ignore – said Bertens in the post-match press conference – the court was really slippery, so it’s tough to move on. Especially I like it when it’s not so slippery so I can move a little bit better. With the wind, it was really tough. She played really smart with the dropshots. She did a good job in there. I was all the time getting myself together and trying to push for more energy. But, yeah, it was not there”.

At her first final on clay and at her first final in a Premier Five/Premier Mandatory tournament after her triumph in Miami in 2017, Konta describer her effort on court as a “continuous adjustment, a continuous openness to figure it out within the match. I stayed very open in trying to find a solution in each point […] after I lost the first set, I didn’t do much wrong. It was a very good set of tennis. Equally the second set, as well. There wasn’t anybody putting a bad foot out of line. In the third, I definitely felt that I was able to maintain my level a bit better than her. I think that gave me the upper hand in stringing some more points together”.

Konta will face in the final n.4 seed Karolina Pliskova, who during the late afternoon match defeated Greek qualifier Maria Sakkari 6-4, 6-4. Sakkari started the match extremely well taking an early 4-2 lead, but could not continue to produce the same level of tennis in the second part of the set and was surpassed by her better ranked opponent. “Your intensity just dropped by one percent – said Sakkari’s coach Tom Hill during an on-court coaching session at the end of the first set – that’s the only difference between the first games and the last in this first set”.

During the second set, Pliskova was always ahead in the score, and despite she was the player more under pressure on her serve during the first half of the set, she eventually managed to break her opponent to love on 5-4 closing the match after one hour, 27 minutes. “I’m super happy for this result because I don’t feel I have been playing my best tennis – said Pliskova after the match – coming into this week I felt I would probably win one match, possibly two, I’m very confident for Paris now”.

The head-to-head between Pliskova and Konta see the Czech having won four of the previous five matches at WTA level, plus further two at ITF level. The only win for Konta came in Beijing in 2016, when the Brit reached her first Premier Mandatory final.

 

Continue Reading

WTA

Johanna Konta Reaches Biggest Semi-Final Since 2017

Johanna Konta advanced to her first semi-final in Rome by beating Vondrousova in three sets, while Pliskova beat Azarenka.

Published

on

Johanna Konta (@InteBNLdItalia on Twitter)

Johanna Konta will contest the biggest match of her career since Wimbledon 2017 when she takes on Kiki Bertens in the semi-final of the Italian Open.

 

The Brit, who is celebrating her 28th birthday today, looked in excellent form during her 6-3 3-6 6-1 victory over rising star Marketa Vondrousova and she fully deserves her place in the last four.

Konta’s win seems even more impressive when you consider the two players the Czech, 19, beat to reach the quarter-final stage: Simona Halep and Daria Kasatkina.

With those scalps under her belt, Vondrousova would surely have fancied her chances against the Brit. However, that confidence quickly eroded after the World No.42 controlled the opening set.

Konta made a great start. She hit a series of deep backhands which pushed the Czech back as she almost got an immediate break.

Although Vondrousova held on, the Brit then earned three more chances in game three. She took the second to move into a 2-1 lead.

Konta dominated her service games to maintain her advantage for the rest of the set, and then broke the Czech again in game nine to clinch it.

To Vondrousova’s credit, she fought back well in the second set and eventually won it 6-3. However, the Brit knew what to do in the decider. She stepped into the court and attacked anything short. This enabled her to win six games in a row and seal her spot in the semi-final.

Azarenka’s impressive run comes to an end

Karolina Pliskova (@InteBNLdItalia on Twitter)

It has been a brilliant week in Rome for Victoria Azarenka, but her participation in the singles event is now over after a 6-7(5) 6-2 6-2 loss to Karolina Pliskova.

The Belarussian, 29, impressed during her three-set win over another top ten player – Elina Svitolina – in the second round, but she could not repeat the feat against the World No.7.

For Pliskova, the match against Azarenka represented a significant hurdle to negotiate. But she responded superbly to losing the first set by raising her game considerably to win the next two.

“Azarenka was playing good tennis today. She wasn’t missing much,” the Czech said in her press conference.

She continued, “It was a little bit windy, so I didn’t feel at my best in the first set. I don’t think my level was that bad, but I was too passive. To begin with, I wanted to kill myself after that set. Then I calmed down a bit and went for my shots a little bit more, which paid off.”

Pliskova’s reward will be a semi-final against either Maria Sakkari or Kristina Mladenovic. If it is the Greek, it will bring back memories of their encounter last year when the Czech famously lost her temper and damaged the umpire’s chair.

“I haven’t played Sakkari since Rome last year, so I think everybody is going to be waiting for this match – even me,” the World No.7 said. “The rematch has almost happened in a couple of tournaments recently, but she always lost before. I think she was scared to face me!”

Continue Reading

Focus

Kiki Bertens receives a walkover into the semifinal, as Naomi Osaka withdraws from the quarter final due to a right hand injury

Published

on

Last week’s Madrid Mutua Open champion Kiki Bertens overcame 2015 Rome finalist Carla Suarez Navarro 6-4 1-6 6-3 after 1 hour and 49 minutes to extend her winning streak to eight consecutive matches.

 

A rain wash-out on Wednesday forced Bertens to postpone her Rome campaign until Thursday and play two matches to advance to the quarter final.

Bertens overcame Amanda Anisimova 6-2 4-6 7-5 after being just two points from defeat in her first Thursday match before surviving another three-set battle against Carla Suarez Navarro.

Bertens went up a double break to take a 3-0 lead and held on her service games to seal the opening set on her fourth set point.

Suarez Navarro broke serve twice to clinch the second set 6-1 forcing the match to the third set.

Bertens broke twice in a row to race out to a 4-0 lead in the  decisive set. Suarez Navarro pulled one of the two breaks back. Bertens held on her next service games to seal the win to secure her spot in the quarter final.

“It was only fight today that got me through. It wasn’t the best tennis, but sometimes that happens where you just have to find a way. Luckily I found it. I got to hit yesterday morning because I was first on, so at 9 AM, I warmed up until 9.30, when I thought that maybe we will be able to go on court, but it did not happen. I was on site from 8 AM to 6 PM, so it was a long day, but for everyone. This morning I saw the schedule for 10 AM, so the alarm went off at 6.30. Not my best morning. After the first match, I felt more mentally fatigued, but a long second match, you feel it physically”, said Bertens.

The Dutch player has received a walkover into the semifinal after her quarter final rival Naomi Osaka was forced to withdraw from the tournament due to a right hand injury. Osaka also had to pull out of the Stuttgart Open because of an abdominal problem, but she reached the biggest clay quarter final of her career in Madrid, where she served for the match, but she lost to Belinda Bencic 3-6 6-2 7-5.

 

 

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending