All Keyed In: Madison Keys Eyes Second Charleston Final
By: Nick McCarvel
A lot has changed in the three years since Madison Keys last made the Volvo Car Open final in 2015. But one thing has stayed the same: She still plays ball-bashing, power-laden tennis.
On Saturday Keys, the 23-year-old American, looks to make her second final here in four years, set to play the equally-powerful Kiki Bertens in one of two of Saturday’s semifinals.
It’s the second of two singles semis set, following No. 5 seed Julia Goerges’ battle with crafty all-courter Anastasija Sevastova, set to start at 1pm.
Both doubles semifinals are scheduled for Saturday, as well as the Invesco Legends Charleston men’s event in the evening session, featuring Andy Roddick and more.
But all eyes will be on Keys come mid-afternoon at the Family Circle Tennis Center. She is more mature than she was three years ago, and last September reached her first major championship match when she finished runner-up at the US Open. Charleston marks her first semifinal at any event since that run in Flushing Meadows.
“It’s always a battle (for me) on clay,” Keys admitted to reporters on Friday. “I’m feeling more comfortable… but I have to figure it out and then I can get more comfortable.”
There will be little comfort against Bertens on Saturday, the Dutch player in fine form having not dropped a set en route to the semifinals. She owns their only career meeting: A fourth round encounter on the clay courts of Roland Garros in 2016.
Keys has sorted her way through two tough matches this week, notably on Friday, when she trailed little-known American Bernarda Pera 2-4 in the third set before rallying to win 7-5 in the decider.
This match will be one of first-strike tennis – even on the clay – and which player can serve with more efficiency and brute force.
Goerges is the de facto favorite in the first semi of the day against Sevastova, but it’s a toss up in many ways: They are both playing in their first semifinal here in Charleston and Goerges has a slight 4-3 lead in their seven career meetings, though Sevastova won just a few weeks ago at Indian Wells.
It will be their first-ever meeting on a clay court.
Goerges has been a player to watch on the WTA for years, but injuries have gotten the better of her. Only earlier this year did she enter the top 10. Sevastova, on the other hand, walked away from tennis briefly before coming out of retirement in 2015.
Both women appear to be happy and confident on and off the court. They’ve showed as much in match play this past week.
It’s semifinal Saturday at the Volvo Car Open. Ready? Play.