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Garbine Muguruza vs Madison Keys Bank of the West Classic tennis live: Wimbledon champion Muguruza faces resurgent Keys in Stanford semifinals

Hannah Wilks in WTA Tour 5 Aug 2017
  • Garbine Muguruza takes on Madison Keys in the semifinals of the Bank of the West Classic
  • Muguruza vs Keys Bank of the West Classic tennis is live from Stanford on Saturday at 7pm local/3am BST
Garbine Muguruza (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Garbine Muguruza will have to get her first ever win over Madison Keys to make her second final of the year at the Bank of the West Classic on Saturday. 

Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza has been on song at the Bank of the West Classic, dropping just six games on her way to the semifinals – but she’ll have to do something she’s never done before and beat Madison Keys if she is to make the WTA Stanford final.

It was in some ways surprising that Muguruza opted to play the Bank of the West Classic after making that stunning run to her second Grand Slam title at Wimbledon. But her decision seems to be paying off so far, with the world no. 4 looking as solid and confident as she did by the end of her Wimbledon campaign and seemingly having not skipped a step in transitioning from grass to the hard courts of the USA.

‘I'm pleased to be back, playing Stanford, feeling good in the matches and happy to be in the semifinals,’ Muguruza said. ‘It's one of my goals, in every tournament I play, to go forward. I know it's a little bit fast to compete again [after Wimbledon]. I felt it was a good idea, I wanted to just keep playing, not giving a lot of time to think, and just follow my gut.’

Muguruza has been playing so well in Stanford that it’s almost been difficult to remember that before Wimbledon, she had made just three WTA semifinals (and no finals) in the previous 12 months since winning the French Open. It’s also remarkable to ponder the fact that the streaky Spaniard has won just four WTA-level titles overall, and two of them have been Grand Slams. Muguruza would no doubt dearly love to get a little better at winning more frequently, and it must be said that she has impressed at the Bank of the West Classic this week, rolling through Kayla Day 6-2, 6-0 before beating Ana Konjuh 6-1, 6-3.

We should also note, though, that Muguruza hasn’t faced the toughest opposition. Day and Konjuh are both power players who don’t force Muguruza to do much that’s outside her comfort zone of first-strike tennis, and Day was clearly overawed by the occasion while Konjuh was error-prone and played from the start like she didn’t believe she could beat Muguruza. But Muguruza has been taking care of business pretty well at her end of the court, and if the Spanish player is doing that, there aren’t going to be many women who can beat her – especially when she’s serving the way she did against Konjuh, landing almost 70% of her first serves and winning 82% of the points played behind them. 

With all of this in mind, it will be fascinating to see Muguruza take on Madison Keys, who is one of the few women who can beat the Spanish player even if she’s playing good, confident tennis. Keys has won both of their previous encounters, shocking Muguruza on American hard courts in qualifying for Cincinnati back in 2012 when Keys was a wildcard ranked world no. 158 and Muguruza was seeded 24th in the qualifying draw, and then beating her again on clay – the Spanish player’s best surface, and Keys’s worst – 7-6(5), 6-4 in the semifinals of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome last year.

Keys was in a very different place last May, though: In the midst of the best season of her career which would see her rise from world no. 17 to world no. 7 and make her first appearance at the WTA Finals Singapore after winning the Aegon Classic in Birmingham and finishing runner-up in Rome and at the Rogers Cup, as well as making the semifinals of the China Open in Beijing. Unfortunately, Keys’s 2017 season has been a completely different story. The American missed the first two months of the year after undergoing surgery on her right wrist and only started her season at Indian Wells where she made the third round, but couldn’t win back-to-back matches at Miami or through the clay-court season. After crashing out of the French Open in the second round at the hands of Petra Martic, Keys underwent a second corrective surgery to remove some scar tissue from the first surgery and free a trapped nerve, and impressively made it back in time for Wimbledon, but lost to Camila Giorgi in the second round, leaving her with just five match wins for the entirety of 2017 coming into Stanford.

After coming back from a set down to beat qualifier Caroline Dolehide in her opening match, however, Keys put in a much more confident performance against Acapulco champion Lesia Tsurenko in the quarterfinals, winning four straight games from a break down in the first set and seeing off a threatened comeback from the Ukrainian in the second for a significant 6-4, 6-3 win and her first semifinal appearance since Beijing last October.

Keys is still trying to find her rhythm on the match court as she admitted herself, but she can take confidence from her 2-0 head-to-head against Muguruza.

‘She's obviously playing really well on a match-winning streak. I won two in a row for the second time in the season, so I feel like we're almost in the same place, right?’ Keys joked after her match. 

‘It's no pressure for me, so that's nice, and obviously, it's special for me because it's my first semifinal of the season, but at the same time, it's been such a long road for me that I'm happy that I get to go out and play another match.

‘She's obviously going to play well, and I know that - we've always had really good matches in the past, so I know it's going to be competitive and I know it's going to be tough, but that's what I missed. That's the fun of tennis, getting to compete and be in tough situations like that. I think it's definitely going to be first-strike tennis, especially on a fast court like this, so I think it's going to go back and forth between who can get on offense first.’

Muguruza vs Keys is scheduled on Stadium Court in Stanford on Saturday at 7pm local/3am BST

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Garbine Muguruza vs Madison Keys Bank of the West Classic tennis live: Wimbledon champion Muguruza faces resurgent Keys in Stanford semifinals

Garbine Muguruza looks to make it ten match wins in a row – and score her first victory over Madison Keys – in the WTA Stanford semifinals: Bank of the West Classic tennis live from Stanford

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