The 26-year-old former top-10 player, who made it to the winning circle after more than two years, dominated the 66-minute contest from start to finish. She improved her record in WTA singles finals to 6-5, having now beaten a fellow American to win two of those titles. She also improved her record against her country-mates 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 of Ukraine, No.8 Ludmilla Samsonova of Russia and No.3 Coco Gauff of the US.
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 prior meetings had gone into three sets.
“I’m really happy with how today went. 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,” Keys was quoted as saying by wtatennis.com.
” 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.”
Unable to play in Australia a year ago due to a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, Keys will head to the Australian Open – where she reached the semifinals in 2015 – riding high on confidence. Another all-American match awaits her in the first round, as she drew 2020 champion and No.11 seed Sofia Kenin, while Riske will face Donna Vekic of Croatia.
“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.
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