In Blistering Form, Keys Beats Wozniacki for First Charleston Title
By: Nick McCarvel
Seven years. Twenty-two matches. Two finals.
Finally, on Sunday, American Madison Keys reigned supreme at the Volvo Car Open, champion by way of a week of blistering, powerful and yet thoughtful tennis.
She played all of that on Sunday, defeating 2011 champion Caroline Wozniacki for the title, 7-6(5) 6-3 in an engaging championship match.
It was all-out smothering tennis from Keys, who swatted 54 winners in a deadly display of power.
It’s the fourth title of Keys’ career, the 24 year old from Orlando denying Wozniacki her 31st. It’s Madison’s first win on clay, having made the final here in 2015 as well as in Rome in 2016.
Wozniacki was playing in her third Charleston final, having finished as runner-up in 2009 and winning the title two years later. The former world No. 1 remains the winningest player on tour in Charleston, though her win-loss record drops to 19-5.
Keys improves to 16-6 at the event she has called one of her favorites on tour. In her debut appearance in 2013, she played Venus Williams in the quarterfinals, and said after the loss that it was a pinch-me moment.
Since then, Keys has established herself as a top star on the WTA, reaching the US Open final in 2017 and rising to as high as number 7 in the world rankings. Injuries have been her downfall, most recently a left knee injury that cut her 2018 short.
"Every time I come here I feel like I’m home," an emotional Keys said on court. "The support I have from everyone in the stands means the world to me."
She gave a nod to new coach Juan Todero, as well, who she just began working with.
"It was a really good first week for my coach and I," she said, adding with a smile: "Hopefully we can keep it up."
She’s the first American winner here since Sloane Stephens in 2016 and collects a $141,420 paycheck for the victory.
In her press conference, Keys said she was still digesting her big day.
"I haven’t really gotten past that I won. I’m very happy," she said. "I'm still trying to process all of that. And then I think maybe later tonight I’ll be very excited picking out my new Volvo."
In the match, Wozniacki got an early break to go up 2-1, but Keys would break right back, and they would trade blows into a first-set tiebreak, where Keys would lead 5-3. In that ninth point, the two had a back-and-forth exchange and Keys hit a defensive ball high. Wozniacki let it float right by her, thinking it would go out, but it landed just inside the baseline.
Keys would win the set three points later, belting a backhand winner to seal it. In the second, she broke for a 4-2 lead and really never looked back. She won the match on a forehand winner... again, her 54th.
"In the important points she managed to win every single one," Wozniacki told reporters after the match. "I had my chances and opportunities. It got tough in that second set."
On court, Wozniacki was straight to the point: "Congratulations on an incredible week," she told Keys. "Just too good for me."
Too good for everyone, indeed. And now - because of that - champion in Charleston for a first time.
First clay title 🏆— Tennis Channel (@TennisChannel) April 7, 2019
Up 4 spots (No. 14) 📈
Brand new car 🚗@Madison_Keys had an incredible week in Charleston.
She spoke to @Steve_Weissman and @Chanda_Rubin following her tournament win.#VolvoCarOpen pic.twitter.com/gsxmkG9B8R