Madison Keys advanced to her first tournament final in two years thanks to a compelling three-set victory over Coco Gauff on Friday night at Adelaide International 2.
The American beat her teenage countrywoman 3-6 6-2 7-5 to set up a meeting with another American in Alison Riske – a frequent practice partner.
Earlier on Friday, Riske advanced when Tamara Zidansek withdrew ahead of their semifinal meeting.
Alison Riske advances to the #AdelaideTennis final after Tamara Zidansek is forced to withdraw due to an abdominal injury.
Riske will face either Coco Gauff or Madison Keys in an all-American final on Saturday.
— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) January 14, 2022
Zidansek, the fourth seed who reached last year’s Roland Garros semifinals, pulled out citing an abdominal injury.
As a result, Riske reaches her second final from her past three tournaments; she won the WTA Linz title in November after progressing to the Portoroz final in September, and has won 15 of her past 21 matches.
Keys, meanwhile, has slipped to world No.87 after once hitting a high of No.7.
She is projected to return to the top 60 after advancing to the title match, her first since reaching the same stage of the 2020 Brisbane International.
The LEVEL in that third set 🔝
— wta (@WTA) January 14, 2022
“It means probably a lot more than anyone would even know. It’s definitely not my biggest final I’ve ever been in, but it means a lot after the year that I had,” Keys said.
“I am just really enjoying tennis again and trying to not act as if every match is the last match that I’ll ever play in my life.
“I’m just really, really happy to be out on the court, fighting as hard as I can, and for the most part being pretty cool and calm.”
Gauff played intelligently in the opening set, applying plenty of spin and shape to her groundstrokes to neutralise Keys, who responded by over-hitting.
Gauff had points for a 4-0 lead, and although Keys ensured the set was not quite such a blowout, the 17-year-old served it out to love in the ninth game.
Keys appeared to be struggling physically, shaking out her leg and slightly hampered in her movement during rallies.
It seemed to focus her attention on what she could do, which was play first-strike tennis when she was in the position to do so.
She struck 15 winners to Gauff’s zero to send the match to a third.
Down a set and carrying an injury, Madison Keys digs DEEP to claim the second set emphatically! Big finish coming up! 🎾
— Wide World of Sports (@wwos) January 14, 2022
Gauff’s concentration had wandered in the second set and, increasingly flustered, she fell behind 4-2 in the third.
But after breaking back, Gauff survived four break points in an incredible eighth game that lasted 11 minutes, holding for 4-4.
As the level of tennis rose, Gauff found herself serving to stay in the match at 5-6.
She went ahead 40-15, but Keys’ full-blooded returns eventually overwhelmed her.
Keys has now beaten three seeds this week in Adelaide, with earlier victories over Elina Svitolina and Liudmila Samsonova.
She is aiming for her first title since Cincinnati in 2019.