Serena Williams and Madison Keys will meet in the Rome final Sunday. It’s the pair’s third career meeting after wins by Serena at the 2015 Australian and US Opens.
It’s also the first all-American final on the WTA since 2012 Stanford where Serena defeated CoCo Vandeweghe and first on clay since Serena’s win over Venus in the 2002 French Open final.
Both players won in straight sets to reach the final.
Keys pulled off a minor upset beating No. 3 seed Garbine Muguruza 7-6(5), 6-4.
“I think I played really well today. You know, the first set was a struggle. We were both serving really well, and it’s always tough when you’re starting and stopping and things like that,” Keys said.
“You know, very happy that especially in the last game I was able to keep my nerves under control and serve it out and win. I’m really, really happy. You know, I’m just really happy that I’m kind of finding my form a little bit before the French Open, and, you know, hopefully I can continue tomorrow and walk out with a very big smile.”
Serena slammed Romanian surprise Irina Camelia Begu 6-4, 6-1 in match interrupted for the rain. She’ll seek her fourth Rome title tomorrow and her third in the last four years.
“I’m excited to be in the final,” Serena said. “I feel like everything is kind of coming together on clay. So I feel pretty good about it.
“I thought Irina played a great game. I think she takes the ball really early, and it took me a minute to get used to her game. I have seen her play, but I wasn’t quite sure still what to expect because we have never played before.
“But I see why she does so well. I feel like she’s a player that has a lot of intensity and she fights really hard. I can really understand why the past couple of years she’s been doing so well.”
The 21-year-old Keys is appearing in just her third WTA final, she is bidding for a second career title after winning Eastbourne in 2014. This is far and away her biggest final.
“I think I have just really kind of focused on each point this week and not gotten ahead of myself,” Keys said. “I know that’s a lame answer that we always say, but really just focusing on each match and not making it bigger than a tennis match has been really helpful for me.”
After wins over Petra Kvitova and now Muguruza, Keys has seven career Top 10 victories (7-16 record).
Tomorrow, Serena will seek her 70th career WTA title and first since Cincinnati last summer. It’s her 92nd career final, third of the season.
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