Keys Gets First Win Over Stephens, Wozniacki, Martic and Puig Reach Charleston Semis
(April 5, 2019) Madison Keys pulled off her first victory against American countrywoman and good friend top seed Sloane Stephens 7-6 (6), 4-6, 6-2 to reach the final four of the Volvo Car Open in Charleston, South Carolina on Friday.
“I think every match here has given me more confidence, and I think,” Keys said. “I played really well at times today and had less moments of times where I wasn’t playing my best tennis. So that has given me more confidence than who I beat today.”
Stephens served for the first set twice and had set points, but could not close the set.
“I think after being down set points to be able to come back and win that set was really important,” Keys said. “And being able to do that. And then I think even in the second set, having chances and never feeling like I was completely out of the set definitely even helped for the third set closing it out.”
“I just knew that I was going to have to be really focused from the first ball, and playing Sloane you never want to get behind in a point. So it was really important today to try to have a good start to every point, whether it was serving or returning. So that was my focus.”
The eighth seed and No. 18 player in the world, had not won a set against Stephens in the previous three meetings. Stephens defeated Keys in the semifinals of the French Open and the 2017 final of the U.S. Open.
Monica Puig has reached her first semifinal since 2018 in New Haven with her 6-3, 6-2 win over Danielle Collins. The woman from Puerto Rico, the 2016 Olympic Gold medalist, hasn’t dropped a set all week. Puig has a new coaching team including Kamau Murray, former coach of Sloane Stephens.
“It feels great,” Puig said after the victory. “It’s been a long time coming. I haven’t really had many good results strung together in a long time. It’s been a minute since I’ve had four matches in a row won. So I’m really happy with that.
“But that being said, there’s another match to be played tomorrow, and I just gotta continue to put my head down and keep fighting and keep believing in myself. It’s not over yet.”
“I think just the composure has been the real factor, because in those moments when you’re ahead, you want to stay ahead; and when it’s tight, you need to stay in there and just keep fighting. So just in those moments, just taking my time, breathing, staying present.
“It’s really difficult, especially when you want to win a match. It’s easy to think ahead, so when you stay present and just think about what you need to do every single point, it really makes a difference.”
Key’s thoughts on playing Puig: “Monica has obviously had some good upsets and good matches this week.”
Puig credits her focus on the present to mediation.
“I usually do it before I go to bed. I love Peloton. I love their workouts. I love everything about it, so the app actually has meditations, and one of the biggest things I struggle with is falling asleep, because my mind is all chitty‑chatty.
“They have two sleep meditations, one that’s ten minutes, if I have more time, or a five‑minute one, and I’ve done it 15 days in a row, and I’ve noticed the difference.”
“Four matches in a row has not been my thing for a really long time, and the last time I did that was in Rio. Pretty sure that was the last time.
“For me to be feeling this way and to be stringing them all together, I’m not saying I had a brilliant week in Rio because that was a really big eye opener. Now I’m actually very conscious of what I’m doing at all times. And Rio was kind of like, wow, I’m doing this; this is crazy!
“So now it’s more I know what I’m doing. I know what I need to do. I’m going to go on the court and execute. It feels like that type of performance, but this time I’m very aware of what I’m doing.”
No. 5 seed and 2011 winner Caroline Wozniacki beat No. 15th Maria Sakkari of Greece 6-2, 6-2 to reach the semifinals. She closed out the match winning the last six straight games. The last game lasted 16 minutes.
“Some great shots from both of us,” said Wozniacki to media. “When we needed to come up she served an ace on the second sever right on the line. She hit a backhand cross court on the sideline as well on one of my match points. She made drop shots. She made every first serve. And when she had game point I came up with some crazy shots, too. I hit the line a couple of times as well. So I was happy I got the luck on my side today.”
Wozniacki has been dealing with r
heumatoid arthritis since last year. She said she’s feeling better and playing better.
“Honestly, I think it’s just the fact that I’m healthy again. I’ve been able to train. Before Indian Wells I only had a few days I was on the court. I went into Indian Wells basically having not trained for maybe two months since Australia. So I was just very happy to be able to play on a pretty high level. But I just ran out of steam, out of gas. And I needed like four days to recover after that. But once that was kind of over, I started training again and got ready for Miami and thought that I started playing pretty well and was happy with the way I started playing match for match. And then I just got myself ready on clay, and I’m feeling healthy, which is the main thing, and now it’s just all about enjoying being out there.”
This will be the Dane’s first semifinal since last Fall at the China Open.
Wozniacki will face No. 16 seed Petra Martic of Croatia, who just needed a break in each set to send off sixth seed Belinda Bencic of Switzerland 6-3, 6-4. This will be the Croatian’s first Premier-level semifinal of her career.
“It was my best match so far,” the world No. 53 said during her news conference. “I think these three wins prior to this match gave me quite some confidence, even yesterday that I managed to pull this match against Pegula was really a tough one, and I played pretty good level already yesterday. So I just brought it with me on court today, and I’m really happy about it.”
Wozniacki on playing Martic: “It’s definitely going to be tough. She’s playing well. She’s been playing well on this surface and this tournament so far. We practiced earlier this week. She has that big kick. She has a good serve, forehand, likes to run around it, mix it up with the backhand. So I need to be ready from every point.”
”So it’s going to be physical tomorrow,” Martic said of her upcoming semifinal. “I have to be ready to be there for quite a long time, I think, but I’m looking forward to it.”
RESULTS – APRIL 5, 2019
Singles – Quarterfinals
 M. Keys (USA) d  S. Stephens (USA) 76(6) 46 62
 C. Wozniacki (DEN) d  M. Sakkari (GRE) 62 62
 P. Martic (CRO) d  B. Bencic (SUI) 63 64
M. Puig (PUR) d  D. Collins (USA) 63 62
Doubles – Quarterfinals
 L. Hradecka (CZE) / A. Klepac (SLO) d [WC] C. Beck (USA) / E. Navarro (USA) 63 62
I. Khromacheva (RUS) / V. Kudermetova (RUS) d  R. Atawo (USA) / K. Srebotnik (SLO) 16 63 10-5
ORDER OF PLAY – SATURDAY, APRIL 6, 2019
VOLVO CAR STADIUM start 10:45 am
A. Friedsam (GER) / S. Sorribes Tormo (ESP) vs  A. Groenefeld (GER) / A. Rosolska (POL)
Not Before 1:00 pm
 P. Martic (CRO) vs  C. Wozniacki (DEN)
 M. Keys (USA) vs M. Puig (PUR)
I. Khromacheva (RUS) / V. Kudermetova (RUS) vs  L. Hradecka (CZE) / A. Klepac (SLO)