Williams v Keys – WTA Rome Final Preview

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By Ros Satar

  • Madison Keys def. Garbiñe Muguruza [3] 7-6(5) 64
  • Serena Williams [1] def. Irina-Camelia Begu 6-4 6-1
  • Williams v Keys in the final – H2H: Williams leads 2-0

ROME, ITALY – We are in for an all-American final as Madison Keys will face World No. 1 and three time winner Serena Williams for the Internazionali BNL d’Italia title.

Britwatch Tennis: Full Draws and Schedules

Serena Williams [1] v Madison Keys – H2H: Williams leads 2-0

It has been another tournament of seed carnage early on, but we have a real final to savour, as the World No. 1 and a three-time champion here Williams takes on perhaps the heiress-apparent to her throne, Keys.

Keys was famously inspired to take up tennis after becoming enthralled with a tennis dress worn by Venus Williams, before going on to face both sisters one after the other at the 2015 quarter-final. The trouble has been for Keys to stay healthy, with injury issues that have dogged her over the past two years.

This week though, it all seemed to come together for Madison, who has learned to come to terms with the fact that she cannot avoid a clay court season, and she has picked up pace this season. From an early loss in Charleston where she made the final last year, to a couple of wins in Madrid before this sold run here. In the early rounds Keys was solid on her serving, not a double-fault in sight with just a couple to creep in towards the deeper rounds.

It was a tightly fought semi-final with Garbiñe Muguruza, hampered by the delayed start and interruptions, but it was a great 7-6(5) 6-4 victory.

As reported in WTATennis.com, Keys said: “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.

“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.”

Williams, in her first tournament since Miami has entertained fans and pundits alike with her Snapchat woe of eating her dog Chip’s gourmet dog food, and while she has not dropped a set, she had her toughest battle against another fellow countrywoman, as Christina McHale had her a break down before being edged in the tie-break.

Williams’ semi-final was perhaps her shakiest in terms of her serving stats, given the stop start nature of the day and the weather conditions. She will need to have her service game on point because Keys can hit back every bit as hard. Keys return game stats are weaker, and it is vital she pulls those percentages up to give herself a chance of sticking with Williams – then she has an even chance of taking some advantage of any dip in Williams’ concentration.

At any rate, Keys has yet to take a set off Williams in their career history – this is as good a chance as any for her to redress that balance.

Prediction: Williams in three sets.

The final between Williams and Keys is scheduled on Centre Court at 2pm (1pm BST).