The first match of the WTA Elite Trophy event began with Group A play between Americans Madison Keys and Venus Williams. The pair met twice this year, both times in Grand Slams. Keys won their first matchup at the Australian Open, and Williams won at the US Open. The veteran got the better of the youngster this time around, winning 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-1.
Break-Filled Opening Set Taken By Keys
Keys raced out to a quick break at 15 on Venus’ serve with back-to-back winners setting up break point and converting it. Venus quickly gave the young American a bit of her own medicine with a break at 15 of her own, also coming off of two winners to set up and convert the break. The match saw its third consecutive break of serve to start the match after Williams netted a forehand to put Keys up 2-1.
The 20-year-old American consolidated in the third game at love for the first hold of serve and to give her a 3-1 lead. Venus responded with her own hold at love, also her first hold of the match. She was unable to convert her two break points though on Keys’ serve as she led 4-2. The American number three broke for a 5-2 lead but was broken right back to keep Venus in the set down 3-5. Keys would keep the lead at a double break to take the set 6-3 with a scorching forehand return winner.
Venus Forces Decisive Third Set After Tiebreak
With the 20-year-old serving first, you would think she looked to be in a comfortable spot to help keep the momentum going after winning the first set. That was not the case however as she double-faulted to give Venus the quick break lead to open the set. The 35-year-old American finally held her own serve after breaking Keys’ and led 2-0. Both women showcase a tremendous amount of power, and that was highlighted in rallies where they traded blows from the back of the court or one woman would dominate.
Keys earned herself a chance to level the match after a backhand winner in the sixth game gave her a 30-40 lead. She’d break but gave it right back as Venus broke at 15 with a forehand winner that just clipped the line. Venus put herself in position to serve out for the set with a break lead as she held for 5-3. With Venus serving for the set, the American number two could not keep her composure, getting broken at 15 to get it to 5-all. The set headed into a tiebreak, and it was Keys who struck the first blow as a forehand winner set up a mini-break lead at 2-1. She would respond perfectly with three consecutive points to put her up 4-2. On her second set point, the 20-year-old netted a backhand to give Venus the set 7-6(5) to extend the match.
Venus Dominates Final Set
Keys looked like she ran out of steam in the final set as she knew that losing the second set may have cost her dearly. A missed overhead and a double fault gave Venus the break for a 2-0 lead. She did not look back as she made it four on the trot off of a Keys unforced error.
Venus made it five consecutive games on the bounce, but she had to save a break point with an ace though to get there. Keys finally got on the board in the final set with a hold at 30. The 35-year-old turned back the clock in this final set as it looked like a vintage Venus beatdown in the final set as she took it 6-1. The win puts her in prime position to take the group with one match to play. Both women will face wildcard Saisai Zheng to finish off round-robin play.