After a long and surprising week in Charleston, we’re down to the last two. Who will be lifting the trophy?
WTA Charleston Final Prediction
Head to Head Wozniacki 2-0 Keys
The American and the Dane have played twice, with both matches in the Dane’s favor on the hard courts. The will be their first meeting on clay. It comes at a time when both ladies are showing their newfound ability to dominate clay court play.
Making her third trip to the finals here in Charleston is Caroline Wozniacki. She’s lifted the trophy once and is showing the fight to do it again. Chalking up eight aces, Wozniacki ended the dream run of Petra Martic in straight sets, 6-3 6-4. The Danish tennis champion has never been known for clay court abilities. But, at this tournament she is converted doubters.
The Dane has proved herself as a true blue clay court player, thanks in part to her new coach, 2010 French Open winner Francesca Schiavone. Taking a few clay court tips, the strategies which don’t translate to any other surface, Wozniacki is finding fine form on the green clay. The former World #1 is confident she’s a clay court contender.
Known as a counter puncher, we watched Wozniacki integrate more offense into her game. Changing up the serve, both speed and placement, led to her eight aces. Certainly, a strength which hasn’t really been associated with the Wozniacki game. And, Wozniacki believes that finding the balance between offense and defense will be key. Wozniacki has always been a cerebral player, and sees the angles and the play as it unfolds. Keeping errors to a minimum really forces opponents to go for too much in an effort to take points from the #5 seed.
You might call it a resurgence. Wozniacki hasn’t had a strong start to 2019. Hampered by illness and injury – and a ruthless diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis – the Dane has fought through a lot to get to this final. Sitting with 30 titles, you can be sure that Caroline Wozniacki is primed to lift #31.
Madison Keys will be making her first trip to a final since the 2017 US Open. And, she’ll certainly be hoping for a better result. You may remember that it was that final against Sloane Stephens where Keys met with disappointment, going down in straight sets.
Her path to the final was anything but straightforward. Tatjana Maria was able to force a third set, after Keys led the second 4-1. However, when the crafty German fought her way back into the match, Key was able to remain calm to claim the match. An unfortunate deja vu, up a set and a break against Sloane Stephens, Keys forfeited the lead and allowed Stephens to claim the second set. Keys again had to dig deep to take the quarterfinal win from her compatriot.
Against Monica Puig, the #8 seed had perhaps her easiest match of the tournament. Maybe it wasn’t easy, but Madison Keys sure made it look that way. A combination of clean ball striking, unbridled power and nine aces, not to mention an underperforming opponent, gave Keys her spot in the finals with a 6-4 6-0 semifinal win.
Throughout the tournament, Keys looked like she belonged on clay. Smoothly sliding into well-timed strikes and moving with effortless ease, Keys appears a different clay player now. In fact, Keys has earned more wins on Daniel Island that she has in all 2019 tournaments combined. The unforced errors are all but gone from the American’s game. And, she’s finding big targets to power in her fiery forehand.
The Way to the Win
For Caroline Wozniacki to win this tournament, she will need to manage that careful balance between offense and defense. Wozniacki is clearly one of the best defenders in the game. But, her ability to find those opportunities to go on offense with short angles or down the line will be crucial. With low unforced errors off the Keys racquet, the #5 seed can’t wait for misses. She’ll need to take control of the point when those opportunities are there.
For Madison Keys to win this tournament, she will need to maintain consistency. The #8 seed’s pure power is a given in any match. But Keys cannot allow unforced errors to find their way into her game. During the semifinal, the Keys game was firing on all cylinders – and that’s what it will take to triumph over Wozniacki.
Neither Keys nor Wozniacki have started 2019 well, clearly considered two of the Tour’s most underperforming players. Almost as if a switch was flipped, these two have now found their A-Game. And, the winner will be determined by the smallest of margins. An inopportune double fault, a shot that flies past the baseline, an error here or there. You can expect a long match with neither the American or Dane yielding much. But, ultimately, Madison Keys can beat anyone, anywhere, when she’s playing at this level. Assuming that’s the Madison Keys who shows up for the final, she’ll hold the trophy after three contentious sets.
Prediction: Keys in 3
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