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Svetlana Kuznetsova, of Russia, returns to Ashleigh Barty, of Australia, during the Western & Southern Open tennis tournament, Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019, in Mason, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Svetlana Kuznetsova, of Russia, returns to Ashleigh Barty, of Australia, during the Western & Southern Open tennis tournament, Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019, in Mason, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)|Associated Press
Tennis

Western & Southern Women’s Final: Abrams picks Madison Keys vs Svetlana Kuznetsova on Sunday afternoon

Match set for 2 pm EDT.

Neal Abrams

Neal Abrams

Western and Southern Open

Cincinnati, OH

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Women’s Final

Madison Keys over Svetlana Kuznetsova

World #2 Ash Barty started her semifinal clash with resurgent Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova as if she was going to run Kuzy (Koozy?) off the court. Barty led 2-0, serving, and after hitting a few inside-out forehands for winners that Kuzy was unable to track down, it looked like the match would be one-sided. And it was. From 0-2 down, Kuzy, who was ranked #143 at the start of this tournament, ran off eight straight games to take the first set 6-2, and a commanding lead in the second.

The dynamic was set for a very quick afternoon. Kuzy proceeded to stun the reigning French Open champion 6-2, 6-4 in about 68 minutes to move into Sunday’s finals and a shot at winning the $544,500 first prize check. Kuzy, who won the U.S. Open back in 2004, resumed her week of giant-killing by beating the third Top Ten player in five days, and has shown signs that even after knee and back injuries, and with a nod to Father Time, who waits for no one, she’s still capable of playing world class tennis.

Madison Keys showed a ton of confidence and played like it against compatriot Sofia Kenin, whom she overwhelmed with deep, hard groundstrokes, pinpoint serves, some nice touch, and steely resolve, which she is not necessarily known for, 7-5, 6-4. Keys brought out her best this whole week, and she didn’t put it away on Saturday, as she hit with abandon against Kenin, who’s results are becoming consistently excellent. Kenin had her chances in both sets, but Keys was able to hit winners and elicit errors when they played the important points—something that is new for Keys. She reminded me of Steffi Graf for a while, as she poked forehands where she wanted, and played like the truly extraordinary athlete she is. If Keys continues to play like she is able to, she should dominate Kuznetsova. But it’s hard to predict what you’re going to get from Madison. She could come out and be a world-beater, or she could be just plain bad. Based on what I’ve seen this week, I think she’s on a roll and will play as she has been. If I’m right, she will beat Kuznetsova. She’s the better athlete to begin with. Now we just have to be sure that the new resident of Lake Nona, Fla., plays with maturity, resolve, and professionalism.

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