The final of the 2019 Western & Southern Open is all set for Sunday between Madison Keys and Svetlana Kuznetsova. Keys and Kuznetsova have navigated their way through tricky draws, but both managed to win in straight sets on Saturday. This post reviews the two semi-finals and features all the highlights from day 6 of main draw action in Cincy. Stay tuned for another photo gallery from Omar Boraby who was at the tournament on Saturday.
Semi-final reviews 🎾
Svetlana Kuznetsova d. Ash Barty, 6-2 6-4
Svetlana Kuznetsova reached the Cincy final with a flawless display to beat Ash Barty. I wondered what Kuznetsova would have left in the tank after a gruelling week so far in Cincy. After quickly going down 0-2, it all clicked for Kuznetsova who played such a complete match. Kuznetsova landed 73% of first serves in and moved effortlessly around the court, tracking balls and making life so awkward for Barty. Sveta pitched it perfectly between defence and attack.
Barty’s woes stemmed from the serve which didn’t give her the usual spate of free points. Her coach urged her to take some risks, but it was clear that she wasn’t feeling confident in her game and she couldn’t hurt Kuznetsova who was just so secure. Kuznetsova held onto her break lead in the second set to serve her way into the Championship match.
All in all, a good week for Barty to set her up for the US. She’s been playing well this week but hasn’t peaked yet. This run from Kuznetsova has been unbelievable. I’m most impressed she’s kept it going physically after her opening three setters against Sevastova and Yastremska.
Madison Keys d. Sofia Kenin, 6-4 7-5
In a high-quality, winner-packed contest, Madison Keys leveled up her head-to-head with Sofia Kenin at 1-1. This is one of the best matches that i’ve seen Keys play in a long time. Keys came out super sharp, rifling down aces. While she was unable to serve out the first set at *5-3 and had a dip in form, Keys didn’t let it define her game as she continued to put pressure on Kenin’s service game, converting on her third set point.
Kenin played a decent match and managed to absorb and redirect Keys’s pace effectively. Kenin twice led by a break in the second set but was pegged back. Keys was clutch in the big moments, as she has been all week. Most impressive of all to me was Key’s court coverage and anticipation. While her power was the focal point, when she was on the defence she managed to track so many balls down and produced the shot of the match (perhaps the week too) to set up match point.
This was another great week for Kenin who was the only player to reach the semis of both Toronto and Cincy. I’m fascinated to see where she lands in the US Open draw as she’s on my radar! Prior to Cincy, Keys had lost four of her last five matches. Now she’s into the Cincy final having played some of her best and most convincing tennis of the entire season.
Stat watch 🔢
Svetlana Kuznetsova’s run has been legit. Three top 10 wins and all five wins against top 32 opposition. Remember that Sveta saved two match points in her second round match against Dayana Yastremska. It’s an amazing story considering her visa drama a few weeks ago (full story here).
R1: Kuznetsova d. Anastasija Sevastova, 7-6(3) 6-7(4) 6-4
R2: Kuznetsova d. Dayana Yastremska, 4-6 7-6(7) 6-2
R3: Kuznetsova d. Sloane Stephens, 6-1 6-2
QF: Kuznetsova d. Karolina Pliskova, 3-6 7-6(2) 6-2
SF: Kuznetsova d. Ash Barty, 6-2 6-4
Hot shots of the day 🔥
Two hot shots today… the one I mentioned above by Keys and a peaking Sveta on return!
Handshakes and hugs 🤗
A nice moment of respect at the net between Barty and Kuznetsova. Ash is all class.
LOL moment 🤣
Keys couldn’t believe this overrule from Julie Kjendlie!
Favourite snap 📸
A happy Sveta in press. Stay tuned for another photo gallery by Omar Boraby!
Press highlights 📰
And here is Sveta’s press conference. She talked about the match with Ash and what she felt she did well.
Recommended media 📺
Along for the ride with Ash Barty!
Tomorrow’s OOP ⭐
Sunday’s final between Madison Keys and Svetlana Kuznetsova will be played 2pm local time (7pm UK time). Keys leads the head-to-head, 3-0. Kuznetsova retired from their first match but Keys won their last two, on hard courts, in straight sets in Sydney (6-4 6-4, 2015) and Beijing (7-6 6-2, 2016).
I always like a difference in tennis styles so this should be a fun final. Keys’s serve has been lethal and she’s been mixing it up so well. With each match, I feel her groundstrokes have been more stable. Kuznetsova is defending and moving beautifully this week, and has demonstrated her fitness having played some tough matches at the start of the week.
My instinct (😬) is Keys with the serve and how well she has been hitting the ball. She looks in the zone. I think it will be a tough ask for Sveta, even with her versatility, to play her game if Madison continues to hit the ball like she has in the past few rounds but we shall see! I’ll go for Keys in 3.