After more than two years, Madison Keys is back in the winner's circle. The former Top 10 played capped a resurgent week at the Adelaide International 2 by rolling past compatriot Alison Riske 6-1, 6-2 to win her sixth career WTA singles title.
Dominant from start to finish in 66 minutes, Keys improved her record in WTA singles finals to 6-5. She has now beaten a fellow American to win two of those titles. She also improved her record against her countrywomen to 42-20.
Entering Adelaide at World No.87, her lowest ranking in nine years, Keys will return to the Top 60 by winning the title. This week, the former World No.7 defeated five players ranked ahead of her, including three seeds in No.2 Elina Svitolina, No.8 Liudmilla Samsonova and No.3 Coco Gauff.
She also extended her dominance against Riske to six wins in seven career meetings, a streak that dates back eight years. Saturday's victory was the most one-sided win in the pair's head-to-head history. Keys dropped four games (6-2, 6-2) in her first victory against Riske at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in 2014, while four of their previous meetings had gone three sets.
Words from the winner: "I'm really happy with how today went," Keys said. "I think I started really well and just had the momentum. There were a couple of opportunities where momentum could have switched, and I think I did a really good job of just regrouping and continuing to focus on my side of the court. Really happy to get a win.
" I think the biggest takeaway is that things can switch at any moment. As long as you can continue to have the right mindset and keep going for things and keep working hard, things will get better if they're not going well as long as you just have the right mindset and continue to have a good attitude about it.
"I'm just really happy that I've been able to put a lot of good matches together. But the biggest thing that I'm taking away from this week is even after being in positions where I lost the first set or things might not be going my way, just having a really collected mindset of I can figure this out, and if I don't I go back onto the practice court and I figure it out tomorrow. Being really conscious of that on the court."
So goes the serve: Keys needed three sets to beat both Samsonova and Gauff in the quarterfinals and semifinals, but was under no threat of the same in the final thanks to a sparkling performance on serve. She never faced a break point in the match and lost just 14 points in eight service games in all.
Riske also had few answers to Keys' power off the ground. Riske tallied just one groundstroke winner in the match, while 15 of Keys' 24 came from her forehand.
Looking ahead to Melbourne: Unable to play in Australia a year ago due to a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, Keys heads to the Australian Open — where she reached the semifinals in 2015 — riding high. Another all-American match awaits her in the first round; she drew 2020 champion and No.11 seed Sofia Kenin, while Riske will face Donna Vekic.
"I think the biggest thing that I'm going to do is just remind myself what I was thinking and what I was focusing on this week, continuing to do that. Obviously that's easier said than done," Keys said.
"Just knowing from what I was thinking about last year and the deep, dark pit of despair that I put myself into because of that, I don't want to go back to that. I don't want to let myself borderline hate being on the tennis court and hate competing. If I let myself think that way, that's where it goes.
"Just being really conscious of I went out and I just competed. My coach has said before every single match, There is no need to and there is no have to, we're going out because we want to and we're going to go out and compete and you're going to do your best and that's it. Going to try to keep that going."
Hozumi and Ninomiya reign supreme in doubles: A thrilling doubles final was played on Friday, in which Eri Hozumi and Makoto Ninomiya captured their first title as a team. The Japanese pair saved a match point in the second set and went on to defeat the all-Czech team of Tereza Martincova and Marketa Vondrousova in a match tiebreak, 1-6, 7-6(4), 10-7.
After losing a one-sided opening set, the Japanese pair led by a break twice early in the second; however, they were one point from defeat serving at deuce with the Czechs ahead 6-1, 6-5.
From 2-0 down in the match tiebreak, Hozumi and Ninomiya never again trailed, and pulled ahead for good from 5-5.
Hozumi and Ninomiya were playing their first final as a pair since finishing as runners-up at the 2018 French Open. Since then, they reached a combined nine other WTA doubles finals with seven different partners. Hozumi captured her third WTA doubles title in victory, while Ninomiya won her fourth.