Madison Keys overpowered Caroline Wozniacki 7-6(5) 6-3 to win the Charleston Open and defeat the former world number one for the first time on Sunday.
The win, her first on clay court, broke a nearly two-year drought for the eighth seeded American, who claimed her fourth career title.
Her previous two losses to Denmark’s Wozniacki had been on hard courts when Keys failed to win a set.
“I think I served really well today,” said Keys, who had predicted on Saturday that playing on clay would be beneficial in her bid to defeat Wozniacki.
“I also felt I kept a lot of pressure on her, making a lot of returns and keeping rallies going and not going for things too early,” said the world number 18, who won 76 percent of points on her first serve, and fired six aces.
“More than anything I really trusted my game and went for my shots.”
That was most evident late in the first set and the tiebreak.
The big-serving Keys trailed 5-6 in the opening set before forcing the tiebreak, which remained close until 4-3 when the fifth-seeded Wozniacki double faulted.
Keys won the next point but twice had backhand errors to allow Wozniacki to pull within 6-5.
A backhand down the line enabled Keys to finally claim the set.
“I just knew the games I was losing in the first set I was just being too tentative and not really trusting my shot,” said the 24-year-old American.
Not the trophy I had hoped for, BUT so many good things I can take with me from this week! Most importantly feeling good, and improving every day! Thank you Charleston for a great week! pic.twitter.com/RTtsZLLVOl— Caroline Wozniacki (@CaroWozniacki) April 7, 2019
“I knew I had to go for it. I think that’s how I have to play... 100 percent believing in my game.”
Keys broke Wozniacki in the sixth game of the second set to go up 4-2 and when she made it 5-2 that all but clinched the match.
“It’s definitely been a really great week for me, especially after having some really tough losses the last couple of weeks,” Keys said. “It definitely is a very good springboard for heading over to Europe.”