Former US Open finalist Madison Keys is gaining momentum at just the right time. The 24-year-old will meet countrywoman Sofia Kenin for a spot in the Cincinnati final, after defeating fellow American Venus Williams, 6-2, 6-3, on Friday evening at the Western & Southern Open.
“My serve got me out of some situations a few times,” Keys said on-court afterwards. “I’m really excited to be into the semifinals. It’s always amazing to be able to share the court with [Venus].”
Keys came out firing to lock up the first set in 26 minutes, striking 11 winners to just three unforced errors. Williams conceded the first break with successive double faults and was unable to hit a single winner. Though the seven-time major singles champion settled in to make the second set more competitive, her eighth double fault enabled Keys to move ahead 5-3 and she briskly served out the quarterfinal at love, improving to 3-2 in their head-to-head series.
After beginning her North American hard-court swing with opening-round losses in Washington D.C. and Toronto, Keys has picked up four quality victories this week, topping Garbine Muguruza, Daria Kasatkina, Wimbledon champion Simona Halep and now Williams. Kenin, who advanced to the last four when top-ranked Naomi Osaka retired down 2-0 in their third set, edged Keys to win a tight three-setter in Rome earlier this season.
Williams was aiming to reach her first semifinal of the season.