Madison Keys has overpowered Caroline Wozniacki 7-6(5) 6-3 to win the WTA Charleston Open and defeat the former world No.1 for the first time.
Keys’ win, her first trophy at a clay-court event, broke a nearly two-year drought for the eighth-seeded American, who claimed her fourth career title on Sunday.
Her previous two losses to Denmark’s Wozniacki had been on hard courts, where Keys failed to win a set.
“I think I served really well today,” the world No.18 said, a day after she predicted that playing on clay would be beneficial in her bid to defeat Wozniacki.
“I also felt I kept a lot of pressure on her, making a lot of returns and keeping rallies going and not going for things too early.
“More than anything I really trusted my game and went for my shots.”
That was most evident late in the first set and the tiebreak.
The big-serving Keys trailed 5-6 in the opening set before forcing the tiebreak, which remained close until 4-3 when the fifth-seeded Wozniacki double faulted.
Keys won the next point but twice had backhand errors to allow Wozniacki to pull within 6-5.
A backhand down the line enabled the American to finally claim the set.
First clay title ????
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
— Tennis Channel (@TennisChannel) April 7, 2019
“I just knew the games I was losing in the first set I was just being too tentative and not really trusting my shot,” said the 24-year-old American.
“I knew I had to go for it. I think that’s how I have to play … 100 per cent believing in my game.”
Keys broke Wozniacki in the sixth game of the second set to go up 4-2, and when she made it 5-2 it all but clinched the match.
Both Keys and Wozniacki are currently ranked outside the top 10, despite Wozniacki being ranked No.1 less than 18 months ago and Keys peaking at No.7 in 2016.
In mid 2018 Wozniacki was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and has battled a viral illness for much of this season, while Keys struggled with a knee injury in late 2018, preventing her playing any lead-up events in Australia and restricting her to just four tournaments this year.
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