Keys follows up breakthrough win over Stephens with SF rout of Puig

Keys follows up breakthrough win over Stephens with SF rout of Puig

The American is aiming for her fourth career WTA title, and her first on clay. She'll face Caroline Wozniacki in Sunday's final.

Madison Keys unleashed 26 winners in 67 minutes to overpower Monica Puig in the semifinals of the Volvo Car Open on Saturday, 6-4, 6-0, setting up a final-round clash against Caroline Wozniacki.

Puig, who was unseeded at the Premier-level event, had been a giant-killer throughout the week, taking out No. 13 seed Sofia Kenin in the second round, No. 3 seed Aryna Sabalenka in the third round and No. 11 seed Danielle Collins in the quarterfinals. When the Puerto Rican won three straight games to level the first set at 4-4—two before a lengthy rain delay and one more after—it wasn't hard to envision yet another upset from the Olympic gold medalist.

But Keys, the No. 8 seed, completely took over the match from there, winning the next and final eight games. She clinched the 67-minute win with a huge forehand on her fourth match point.

“Thank you for everyone who stayed in the rain,” Keys told the crowd afterwards. “I know that last game was a little bit dramatic, but thank you for your support and I can’t wait to play again tomorrow!”

Keys hit more than twice as many winners as unforced errors in the match—26 to 12—and struck nine aces against just one double fault.

“Weathering the storm in the first set was important,” she said. “Monica played really well in the first set, and it definitely pushed me—after the rain delay I came out really focused, and here I am.

“I feel really comfortable right now, especially on green clay and playing here in Charleston, where I’ve had good results before. So I felt confident coming in, and I can’t wait to play another final here.”

This is the second time Keys has reached the final in Charleston, having been a runner-up to Angelique Kerber in 2015. Keys led the third set 4-1 before losing the match, 6-2, 4-6, 7-5.

Awaiting her in this year’s final will be the No. 5 seed, Wozniacki, who defeated No. 16 seed Petra Martic in the first semifinal of the day, 6-3, 6-4. The Dane is now 6-0 in their head-to-head and 12-0 in sets played.

Keys has lost to Wozniacki in straight sets in both of their previous meetings: a 6-3, 6-4 defeat in the fourth round of the 2016 US Open, and a 6-4, 6-4 loss in the fourth round of Indian Wells in 2017. The American has already ended one losing streak this week, though: she was 0-3 against Sloane Stephens (and 0-6 in sets) before taking out her countrywoman in the quarterfinals on Friday.

“I’m looking forward to playing her and my coach giving me a great scouting report,” Keys said.

Keys is chasing her fourth career WTA title, and first on clay. This will be her first final since finishing runner-up to Stephens at the 2017 US Open.