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By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Thursday, May 2, 2024


Iga Swiatek dismissed Madison Keys 6-1, 6-3 to charge into her second straight Madrid final. The world No. 1 will play for a 20th career title on Saturday.

Photo credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty

World No. 1 Iga Swiatek knows No. 2 is vital to success.

Today, Swiatek gave Madison Keys nearly no second chances on her second serve.

More: 10 Roland Garros Stats You Can't Live Without

Riding a strong serve, Swiatek dismissed Keys 6-1, 6-3 to charge into her second straight Muta Madrid Open final.

The top-seeded Pole converted all three of her break-point chances and won 11 of 14 second-serve points to improve to 29-4 in 2024.

"[I feel] pretty confident," Swiatek told the media in Madrid. "You know, every tournament that I play, I have a pretty good result in, so yeah, really confident and kind of happy that I can, you know, play consistently the semifinals, finals, and sometimes win.

"Yeah, it's a great place to be, honestly. I'm happy that hard work pays off. So, yeah, really confident."

Reigning Roland Garros champion Swiatek, who owns a sparkling 70-10 lifetime record on dirt, will play for a 20th career title on Saturday.

Swiatek will face either world No. 2 and two-time defending champion Aryna Sabalenka in a rematch of the 2023 Madrid final or fourth-seeded Elena Rybakina in a rematch of last month’s Stuttgart semifinals. Swiatek is 6-3 vs. Sabalenka, while Rybakina has won four of six meetings with the world No. 1.

For Swiatek, Saturday's final will be a proving ground.

"So I still feel like I haven't played, you know, this match where I tactically played the best, you know, from the beginning till the end against these players," Swiatek said of the final. "So this is something that I want to kind of improve.

"So it's not like we need to, you know, change a lot, but we need to, you know, stick to the plan and I need to implement it a little bit better, I think, sometimes."

The 22-year-old Pole has won 10 of 11 sets in Madrid, dishing out either a bagel or breadstick in seven of the 11 sets she’s played in this event.

Knowing she needed a fast start, Keys tried imposing her forehand, but Swiatek was sharper.

Swiatek sped through nine of the first 10 points, breaking Keys at love in her opening service game, in charging out to a 3-0 lead.

The 18th-seeded Keys cranked an ace down the T to get on the board in the fourth game.

The relentless depth of Swiatek’s returns and her skill hammering drives into both corners effectively neutered Key’s prodigious power in the opener. Swiatek exploited a double fault and error to break again for 5-1 after 27 minutes of play.

The 2017 US Open finalist sprayed a forehand long as Swiatek wrapped up the opening set in just 31 minutes.

The explosive Keys has had success on all surfaces, including clay where she won the 2019 Charleston title on Har-Tru and reached the 2018 Roland Garros semifinals.

When she has her feet set and is striking with control, Keys can hit through nearly any opponent on any surface.

In this semifinal, Swiatek’s superior speed, her skill transitioning from defense to offense in the corners and the fact she can extend points with her topspin and draw errors from the hard-hitting American were all assets.

Moving forward in the third game, Keys saw Swiatek bolt a backhand pass as the top seed broke for a 2-1 second-set lead.

The 22-year-old Swiatek stamped her second love hold of the set cruising to a one-set, 4-2 lead after only 58 minutes.

Though Keys was crushing some 80 mph forehands, Swiatek faced the fire calmly because she knows she’s the better mover, more accurate ball striker and she takes it earlier, robbing the reaction time of the American.

"I think she's very difficult because the ball comes back over the net so quickly," Keys told the media in Madrid. "Maybe not with as much power as some of the other players have, but she does such a great job at taking the ball early and it comes back so quickly that you start feeling rushed.

"She obviously moves very well, so I feel like she does a really great job at making you feel like you have to start hitting these incredible shots from all over the court. She puts you in a bad position to where you start going for things that you shouldn't."

Pressed in the eight game, Swiatek imposed her fail-safe tactic forcing Keys to defend her backhand on the run. Keys could not consistently do that today as Swiatek held at 30 for 5-3.

When Keys sailed a final forehand, Swiatek scored the love break to secure her Madrid finals return—and 70th clay-court win—in only 70 minutes.


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