Keys v Strycova – WTA Birmingham Final

By Ros Satar, in Birmingham

  • Madison Keys [7] v Barbora Strycova – H2H: Keys leads 2-1

BIRMINGHAM, UK – After some challenging weather, 2014 finalist Barbora Strycova gets a second shot at the title, when she faces last seed standing, Madison Keys.

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Against all odds we will rock up to a final on Sunday in Birmingham, where the investment into the upgrading of the courts to state of the art wet-weather provision paid off.

After the biblical levels of torrential rain and flooding on Thursday, ground-staff at the Edgbaston Priory Club worked through the night in two-hour shifts to ready the grounds for a mammoth schedule on Friday.

This may have largely passed Keys by, but for Strycova, it was a hectic schedule in both the singles and the doubles, which earned her a spot in her second Birmingham final, as she bids to win her second WTA career title.

Strycova ended Coco Vandeweghe’s eight match winning streak, which saw her claim her second s’Hertogenbosch title. After dominating the Czech in the first set, Strycova’s tenacity showed to the core, as she struck for home.

She said: “It was a rollercoaster, I have to say. Coco was playing really well in the first set and really fast and I had to just hang in there.

“In the second set I just tried to win as many serves as I could and then it turned a little bit.”

Keys may have surprised a lot of people with her clay court season – and she has carried that momentum into the grass court season.

As part of that, she delivered a couple of defeats to Strycova, who wryly commented:

“In the last three weeks I lost to her twice (laughs) so I’ll just try to play the best tennis that I can and try to do something different to the previous matches.”

Keys has shown a real level of maturity, but still holds on to the dry self-deprecating humour that makes her a delight to talk to post-match.

There is no doubt though that her ability to figure out conundrums on the court has improved, and is also bidding to win a second career title on Sunday.

Keys won her first title in Eastbourne in 2014, defeating Angelique Kerber in a windswept final – so is this her best surface?

“This the only surface that I have a title on. Obviously, it’s one of my favourites. It definitely suits my game. I feel pretty comfortable playing on it.”

Both have shown great adaptability on the grass, and Strycova will probably have a better understanding of the microcosm of weather we can have in Birmingham.

The two tournaments are very different in their environments, but with Strycova having been active in the singles and the doubles, perhaps Keys will be the fresher.

Keys’ solid serving and big hitting game can go awry if a gust of wind picks up the ball, but can be matched by Strycova’s all round game and variety.

Prediction: Keys in three sets.

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