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Keys vs Kenin WTA Cincinnati Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Keys and Kenin meet in all-American Cincinnati semi-final

Leye Aduloju in WTA Tour 17 Aug 2019
  • Madison Keys vs Sofia Kenin is live from Cincinnati on Saturday, 17 August from 3:00pm local time/ 8:00pm BST
  • Kenin defeated Keys in Rome earlier in the year in their only previous meeting
Madison Keys (Photo by: Ian Johnson/Icon SMI via ZUMA Press)

Will Madison Keys power into her first Cincinnati final or can Sofia Kenin grind down her compatriot and move into Sunday's title match? Keys and Kenin go head-to-head for the second time in Saturday's all-American semi-final. 

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Following her brilliant 2016, when she first broke into the top-ten and reached a career-high No. 7 in the world, Keys has had a bizarre couple of years. The American has been hindered by injuries, and has generally been inconsistent in WTA tournaments, but she has produced some big results at the majors during that time frame, reaching the US Open final in 2017, and contesting semi-finals at Roland Garros and the US Open last season.

Outside the majors last year, she made just one semi-final, in Charleston, and one other quarter final, in Cincinnati. The American ended the season with a 28-14 record, with 16 of those wins coming at the Slams, while she was at No. 17 by the end of the year.

Her lack of consistency has continued this year, as she was champion in Charleston, a quarter finalist at Roland Garros and had a fourth-round run at the Australian Open, but she has also suffered numerous opening round defeats including Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid, Washington and Toronto. 

Keys has become such an enigma over the last couple of seasons that it is almost impossible to know when she will find some form and make a run, but there's always a good chance that she strikes in a big hard-court tournament in the US, as she has again done in Cincinnati this week.

Keys has beaten three former Grand Slam champions and former world No. 1's in Cincinnati, taking out Garbine Muguruza, Simona Halep and Venus Williams en route the last four. She also got past Daria Kasatkina somewhere in between. She has been taken to three sets on two occasions, by Muguruza in the first round, and Halep in the third, while she swept past Kasatkina in straights in the second round and powered to a 6-2 6-3 victory over Venus Williams in the quarter finals on Friday night.

Keys struck five aces against Venus, winning 78% of points behind her first serve, and saving the two break points she faced as she moved into her first Cincinnati semi-final, bettering last year's quarter final effort.

"I'm really happy with how well I served. She's a very, very good returner, and being able to, for the most part, have fairly straightforward service games was my favorite part," Keys said.
"I think the biggest thing, after having a couple of tough losses the last tournaments I have played, being able to bounce back, and especially after my first round here, being able to get that win and then just building on that."

She will face a different kind of opponent on Saturday, as she runs into the in-form Sofia Kenin.

Kenin is into her second straight Premier-5 semi-final, backing up her run in Toronto with another superb week. Her Rogers Cup run included victories over then No. 1, Ashleigh Barty, and top-ten main stay, Elina Svitolina, and she has mirrored those results in Cincinnati, beating Svitolina 6-3 7-6 for the second straight week, before taking out reigning world No. 1, Naomi Osaka, who was forced to retire early in the third set due to a left knee injury.

Kenin opened her tournament with a 6-4 7-6 victory over another former top-ten star, Julia Goerges, took out Zarina Diyas in the second round, before scoring those consecutive wins over Svitolina and Venus.

“I feel like I'm just having really great wins, you know, beating these top players,” Kenin said in her post-match press conference. “I'm just finding my rhythm while playing really well. Yeah, I couldn't be happier with how things are going.”

Kenin is having a fine season overall, with her win-loss record standing at 33-15 in 2019. The 20-year-old has had her bad patches, but she has been doing enough winning to more than make up for those lean spells. Kenin claimed her maiden WTA titles in Hobart and Mallorca, and made the final in Acapulco and semi in Toronto. She also reached the fourth round at Roland Garros after beating Serena Williams in the third round.

The world No. 22 has been accelerating up the rankings in the last few seasons, breaking into the top-50 last year, and she will now reach the top-20 for the first time in her career following this Cincinnati run.

Can she continue extend her stay by beating Madison Keys on Saturday?

“I played Maddie at Rome. It was obviously pretty dramatic,” Kenin recalled. “Atmosphere was unreal there. It was so good. It's going to be a tough one. She's playing well, and I have a lot of respect for her”. 

Kenin won that match in Rome- their only previous meeting- a hard-fought two-and-a-half-hour three-set victory, but the conditions are a lot quicker on the hard courts of Cincinnati, which play nicely into the hands of the powerful Keys.

"I think I have to do a good job at moving the ball around and honestly just kind of expecting anything”, Keys opined. “She's really good at mixing things up and trying to take you out of your game. Just being super aware of that, and just staying really focused the entire match."

The match is on Keys’ racket- if she can blend that power with some control, serve well and minimize the errors, she has got the ability to hit through Kenin, but the younger American has been in supreme form, and will make things very tough and awkward for her more experienced compatriot.

Madison Keys vs Sofia Kenin is live from Cincinnati on Saturday, 17 August from 3:00pm local time/ 8:00pm BST

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Keys vs Kenin WTA Cincinnati Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Keys and Kenin meet in all-American Cincinnati semi-final

Madison Keys and Sofia Kenin go head-to-head for the second time this year with a spot in the Cincinnati final on offer. Read our preview, predictions and stream the match live online.

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