WTA Charleston: Keys downs Stephens. Wozniacki, Puig and Martic advance


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WTA Charleston: Keys downs Stephens. Wozniacki, Puig and Martic advance

The Volvo Open champion from 2011 Caroline Wozniacki will compete in the first WTA semi-final since October last year in Beijing following a 6-2, 6-2 triumph over the 15th seed Maria Sakkari in an hour and 33 minutes, beating the Greek for the first time in two matches.

Sakkari gave her best to stay in touch with the better-ranked opponent, winning more than 40% of the return points but scoring only two breaks from four chances, not enough following a poor performance behind the initial shot.

Wozniacki tamed the rival's serve completely, taking almost 60% of those points and earning six breaks from 12 chances, more than enough to push her through to the last four. The Dane controlled the pace in the opener with three breaks of serve and rattled off the last six games of the match in set number two to march into the semis where she will face Petra Martic.

The Croat took down an in-form Swiss Belinda Bencic 6-3, 6-4 in just an hour and 22 minutes for the best result since Bucharest last July and one of her best wins ever! Both players competed on a high level while Martic had the upper hand in the crucial points, fending off all three break points she faced and stealing opponent's serve once in each set to stay on the title course.

Covering the court beautifully, Petra took charge right after the start, breaking Belinda in game two and serving for the set at 5-3. The Swiss had a great chance to score a late break and bounce back, creating three break chances and wasting them all, allowing Martic to close the opener after a backhand error she made.

The Croat faced no break points in set number two and managed to convert the only she created in the fifth game after a costly double fault from Belinda who couldn't do much on the return by the end of the encounter to send Petra through.

The Olympic champion Monica Puig has barely won a match before Charleston this year but has found the form on Har-Tru clay, ousting the 11th seed Danielle Collins 6-3, 6-2 in an hour and 34 minutes for the first semi-final on the Tour since New Haven last year.

Monica repelled four out of five break points and that sent the pressure to the other side of the net, something Collins couldn't deal with. The American suffered breaks in the third and ninth games of the opener and Puig never looked back in set number two, adding three more breaks to her tally to march into the semi-final where she will face the 8th seed Madison Keys.

In the longest and most exciting match of the day, Madison toppled 2016 champion and the top seed Sloane Stephens 7-6, 4-6, 6-2 in two hours and 12 minutes for the first win over the fellow American in four encounters. There were 26 break points up for grabs and Madison converted seven out of 15, dropping serve six times and saving her best for the last to stay on the title course.

The first set lasted for an hour and Sloane squandered a 4-2, 5-4 and 6-5 lead, with keys giving her best to score three straight breaks and stay in the set before the tie break where she saved two set points at 4-6, taking four points in a row to finally steal the opener.

Stephens notched three breaks in set number two for a 6-4 although that was all we saw from her in this encounter, fading from the court in the decider when Madison broke her twice to sail into the semis, losing only five points in her games and delivering another tough loss for Stephens in 2019.