OSAKA, Japan - It was a breakthrough week at the HP Open for Madison Keys, as the American teenager reached her first WTA semifinal - but Sam Stosur rained all over her parade in that semifinal match, a storm of big serves and forehands to be exact, and the Australian stormed into the final.
The No.3-seeded Stosur held all eight of her service games - losing only 12 points in all eight of those games - and was lethal off the forehand wing, eventually cruising to a 61-minute, 61 62 victory.
"I thought I did everything very well today," Stosur said. "I got off to a very good start. At 2-1, the game where I broke serve, that was obviously very important, but the next game I was 0-40 on my serve and managed to win that game, and I feel like that gave me the momentum for the rest of the match."
Stosur has always played well in Osaka - she has never lost before the quarterfinals in five career appearances, including winning the title in 2009 and reaching another final in 2011 (falling to Marion Bartoli). With her win over Keys she is a sparkling 18-3 at the International-level tournament.
"I came here the first year of the tournament in 2009 and won the title, and I had a really good time, so I think it's nice to go back to a city and a tournament where you have a good feeling," Stosur said. "I always play well and enjoy my time here. And it's no trouble coming here either - at the end of the year there are a lot of tournaments in Asia, so of course I wanted to come back to this event too.
"I'm very motivated," she added. "I'm really looking forward to tomorrow now. It's going to be great to be in the final again. Hopefully I can repeat what I did four years ago instead of two years ago."
Stosur is now through to the 17th WTA final of her career, going 4-12 in her first 16 - her four WTA titles came here in 2009, Charleston in 2010, the US Open in 2011 and Carlsbad earlier this year.
Keys still has a lot to be proud of - her best WTA results before this week were three quarterfinals, all this year at Sydney, Charleston and Birmingham, but now she has a WTA semifinal to her name.
"Today wasn't a great day - it's been a long tournament and I'm kind of tired. But Sam also played really well," Keys said afterwards in her post-match press conference. "I felt like every time I was about to get back in it, she served an ace or hit a great shot. So yeah, today just wasn't my day, really.
"But first WTA semifinal was great. It's something to be happy about and proud of. You're not going to win every match, so you just have to take the positives and look at the negatives and work on them."