Puig, Keys, Wozniacki into Charleston semifinals

Published by Tennismash / AP

Monica Puig (Getty Images)
Monica Puig advances to her first WTA semifinal since August 2018 where she will meet Madison Keys, who beat Sloane Stephens earlier on Friday in Charleston.

Monica Puig has continued her barnstorming run at the WTA clay-court event in Charleston, belting 11th seed Danielle Collins in straight sets to reach the semifinals.

Puig beat the American 6-3 6-2 to set up a meeting in the last four with Madison Keys, who scored her first win over nemesis – yet good friend – Sloane Stephens.

Puig arrived in Charleston with a less-than-impressive 4-7 win-loss record in 2019, but hasn’t dropped a set in four matches this week, beating Sara Errani, Sofia Kenin and Aryna Sabalenka before dismissing Collins.

“The only thing I want to say is ‘woo-hoo!'” the Puerto Rican exclaimed in her on-court interview.

“I was just trying to continue playing the same way that I’ve played all week – staying within myself, staying patient, but aggressive.

“I’m just really happy with what’s going on right now.”

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Puig recently began working with Kamau Murray – the previous coach of Stephens – and the move is already bearing fruit.

With her victory over Collins, Puig arrives in her first tour-level semifinal since New Haven last year, prior to the US Open.

Her four wins in a row is the most since she notched five consecutive victories to reach the quarterfinals in Wuhan as a qualifier in September 2018.

“They’ve done such a great job with me, trying to get me together and organise everything,” she said of her new-look team.

“It’s been great, and I’m having so much fun with them, and it’s really been a great group effort, so I’m really excited.”

Earlier on Friday, Keys rallied late to down top-seeded Stephens for the first time in four career meetings to reach the semis.

Keys, seeded eighth and ranked 18th, pulled away from her fellow American to win 7-6(6) 4-6 6-2, having saved two set points in the first set.

Stephens had not lost a set in three previous matches against her good friend, including in the 2017 US Open final and last year’s French Open semifinals.

Keys dug in once again down the stretch after Stephens won the second set.

No. 5 seed Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, the 2011 Charleston champion, also made the final four after defeating 15th-seeded Maria Sakkari of Greece 6-2 6-2.

She will face No.16 seed Petra Martic of Croatia, who ousted ninth-seeded Belinda Bencic of Switzerland 6-3 6-4.

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