American Keys Rolls, Sets Up Must-See Final vs. Kerber

Madison Keys is playing some of the best tennis of her career – on any surface.

MORE: A Jam-Packed Semifinal Saturday | Order of Play | Draws | Tickets

No matter the always-difficult clay, the American has been dominant this week and continued that trend on Saturday, a 6-1, 6-4 victor over Lucie Hradecka to advance to her first-ever Volvo Car Open final.

The 20-year-old Keys, an Illinois native, is seeded 7th in her third appearance at the Cup, having been a quarterfinalist here two years ago. It’s her first big run at an event since she made her first Grand Slam semifinal in January at the Australian Open.

Keys will face German Angelique Kerber, the No. 5 seed, in the final. Kerber played some of her own best tennis in recent memory in a 6-4, 6-4 effort over No. 3 Andrea Petkovic, her countrywoman and good friend. It was defending champion Petkovic’s first-ever loss in Charleston.

“It’s not easy to play against a good friend,” said Kerber, who moves to 7-3 against Petko. “I know Andrea since we was [sic] very young. I had very tough weeks, yeah, (this year). But right now I’m back. I mean I was feeling it in every single practice the last few weeks. And now I’m just happy that I can transfer it to my match.”

The big-serving American Keys, meanwhile, has been downright dominant on court this week, dropping just 14 games in four matches played. She has not had her serve broken, knocking down 26 aces for the tournament to tick her over the century mark for the year, one of only three WTA players to do so in 2015.

Keys has one WTA title to her name, on grass last year in Eastbourne. Her opponent in that match? Kerber.

“Angelique is obviously a great player,” Keys said in her press conference. “She’s made tons of finals. She’s won a ton of matches. And you know, no matter what, it’ll be a tough match, but at the end of the day I’m more concerned about myself. I’ve been really happy with what I’ve been doing, and tomorrow, win or lose, if I can walk off the court and think, you know, I’ve improved, then that’s a good day.”

Kerber and Keys will meet Sunday afternoon at 1pm local time, following the doubles final. It’ll be their fourth meeting, with Kerber holding a 2-1 edge, though Keys won that all-important Eastbourne final, their most recent encounter.

“I’m just happy to be in the final,” said Kerber, who has been in 12 WTA finals and won three of them. “It’s an amazing tournament and amazing fans. I will just go out and try to, you know, play my game, actually try to focusing just on myself and enjoy the final tomorrow. I mean I played very well also this week, so I’m just trying to keep going, and yeah, just going out there and try to play well tomorrow.”

Tickets are still available for Sunday, with the doubles final starting at 10:45am and the singles final to follow. Gates open at 9am.