Madison Keys had not won a set against Caroline Wozniacki in their two career meetings. On Sunday, she won two. The American overpowered Wozniacki, 7-6 (5), 6-3, to win her first tournament since Stanford nearly two years ago.
Keys came into the final with plenty of confidence: she rallied to beat US Open champion Sloane Stephens in the quarterfinals for the first time in four tries, and followed up the breakthrough win with a straight-set rout out of Monica Puig.
Today, both players kicked off the match by trading breaks early, then held until they moved to the tiebreak, where the 24-year-old American broke the stalemate with some assertive play. With the first set in her pocket, Keys continued to apply pressure, keeping the No. 5 seed off-balance with her heavy groundstrokes. In the sixth game, Keys got the first and only break of the set, enough to win her first clay-court title and deny Wozniacki her second in Charleston.
Madison Keys wins in Charleston! ????????????@Madison_Keys defeats Wozniacki 7-6(5), 6-3 to win her fourth career title and first title on clay.— Tennis Channel (@TennisChannel) April 7, 2019
This is Madison's first tournament win since 2017.#VolvoCarOpen pic.twitter.com/QTI95GMPom
So what was different this time? How did Keys manage to solve Wozniacki?
"I think I served well today," Keys said after her win. "I also think I kept a lot of pressure on her, making a lot of returns and just keeping rallies going and not going for things too early. And more than anything, I really trusted my game and went for my shots, and kept trying to move forward even if I lost a point. So, overall I think I did really, really well today."
Keys, currently ranked No. 18 in the world, has reunited with coach Juan Todero, who recently parted ways with Puig. Keys and Todero worked together in 2013 and 2014, during the Argentine's time with the USTA.
Before today, Keys had failed to reach a quarterfinal since losing in last year's US Open semifinals to eventual winner Naomi Osaka. She also reached the French Open final four last season, exiting after a tight two-setter against Stephens.
The newly minted Volvo Car Open champion, who is projected to jump to No. 11 in the rankings on Monday, became the 15th WTA player to win a title in 15 tournaments this season. It's no different on the men's side. Out of 20 tournaments played, Roger Federer is the only player to win more than one title after victories in Dubai—which saw him win his milestone 100th title—and Miami last month.
Elsewhere, in Monterrey, Garbine Muguruza became the 16th WTA player to win a title in 2019, after Victoria Azarenka retired with a leg injury while trailing 6-1, 3-1.