Madison Keys looked to be in US Open form early on Sunday at the WTA tour’s Stanford tournament, beating American compatriot CoCo Vandeweghe 7-6 (4), 6-4 for her third career title.
The 22-year-old Keys was pleased with the win after battling injuries this year which caused her to miss the first two months of the season following wrist surgery.
“It hasn’t been the easiest last couple of months, but this means a lot to me,” said Keys, who earned her first win of 2017.
Keys also said the victory will give her confidence going into the US Open, the last Grand Slam of the year which begins in three weeks in New York.
“It finally feels like I’m on the right track and feeling good about my tennis again. It feels amazing to have a title at home and on hard courts.
“I’m really, really happy that this is kind of the start of my US Open Series.”
The world No. 21 Keys reached the final by eliminating reigning Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza in straight sets, so it didn’t come as a surprise she played her best tennis in the final.
It was the first career WTA meeting between Keys and Vandeweghe but they are no strangers off the court. The two Fed Cup team-mates shared a long embrace at the net after Keys closed out the win with back-to-back forehand winners.
“Thanks for a great week CoCo,” said Keys.
Keys hit two aces, had three double faults and won 76 per cent of her first-serve points in the one hour, 28 minute match.
Vandeweghe, 24, also served brilliantly, hammering six aces and winning 73 percent of her first-serve points. She reached the final without dropping a set. Keys hit 23 winners to just 19 unforced errors, while Vandeweghe tallied 20 winners and 22 unforced errors.
Keys won the first-set tiebreaker with a forehand winner down the line after both players held serve through all 12 games of the set.
Both players continued to serve solidly in the second and Keys finally broke Vandeweghe at 4-4 in the set.
“I just knew that if I kept hanging in on my service games, hopefully I would have a chance to break,” Keys said.
After the only break of the match, Keys wasted no time finishing off Vandeweghe on her serve in the next game. She jumped out front 40-0 then closed out the win with a cross-court forehand winner.
“I felt really calm, and I didn’t feel any nerves until like 30-0 in the last game serving. I kind of went in with feeling no pressure, in a weird way,” she said. “She’s had an amazing season and lots of matches, and I just knew what I needed to do and kind of stayed focused on that.”
Keys has a quick turnaround as she flew straight to Toronto where she faces Croatian Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in her opening clash, before a potential showdown with second-seeded Simona Halep in round two. Vandeweghe has a brutal opener in Canada against 10th-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska.
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