Madison Keys has charged into the Brisbane International final after turning the tables on Petra Kvitova in a comeback semi-final victory.
Down a set and a break, the American won nine of 10 games on Saturday afternoon in a remarkable mid-match recovery against the tournament’s 2011 champion on her way to a 3-6 6-2 6-3 triumph.
She will play defending champion Karolina Pliskova in Sunday afternoon’s final, after the Czech’s three-set triumph over third seed Naomi Osaka.
The world No.13 and tournament’s eighth seed couldn’t rely on her huge serve as Kvitova, ranked five spots higher, smothered it in the early exchanges on a closed Pat Rafter Arena.
— Madison Keys (@Madison_Keys) January 11, 2020
It moved the left-handed fifth seed within striking distance of an easy kill.
But a chat to coach Juan Todero helped to swing the momentum as Keys, an Australian Open semi-finalist five years ago, assumed control.
“He pretty much just said ‘don’t be discouraged’,” Keys said.
“I felt like I had chances, but couldn’t close on those … and once I did, I felt the momentum went back and forth but I gained confidence.
Keys, who had beaten Samantha Stosur in the second round and not dropped a set in her three previous matches, surged from 0-2 down to level proceedings.
“I had my chances. It was difficult mentally. She was strong… she can play so well,” says Petra Kvitova. “I’ll take a lot of positive things from this week. I’m pretty satisfied; I’m not injured (smiles)”
— #BrisbaneTennis (@BrisbaneTennis) January 11, 2020
Czech star Kvitova found another gear, breaking twice in a see-sawing final set.
But Keys unloaded from the baseline and forced Kvitova to miss a low volley to land the crucial break before she came from 0-30 to serve out the match in exactly two hours.
Keys made the French Open quarter-finals and also the last 16 at the 2019 US and Australian opens.
But a bright start to the season is something she won’t take for granted.
“I’m very happy but I’m very tired,” she said.
“From getting broken in the second set on, I think I played a pretty high level.
“I’ve definitely started the year playing some really terrible tennis so it’s nice to be on this side of things.”