WTA Birmingham semifinal preview: Madison Keys vs Carla Suárez Navarro

The first of two Premier events on the road to Wimbledon, in England, started at the Aegon Classic at the Edgbaston Priory Club in Birmingham.

The Aegon Classic will be a tournament remembered as the survival of the fittest as this event has been plagued by rain delays, meaning some players have had to play two matches in one day to progress further in this tournament.

Madison Keys, the seventh-seeded American has been fortunate to finish off her matches and not play two matches in one day, which could be vital for the American going forward to pick up her second grass court title.

Carla Suárez Navarro is known for being a clay-court specialist and she has never gone beyond the fourth round of Wimbledon, which remains to be the only Slam to ellude her from reaching the quarterfinals of all four majors, and here at the Aegon Classic, she battles Keys for a spot in her first grass court singles final.

Suárez Navarro in action at the Aegon Classic against Angelique Kerber (Photo by Steve Bardens / Source : Getty Images)
Suárez Navarro in action at the Aegon Classic against Angelique Kerber (Photo by Steve Bardens / Source : Getty Images)

How they got here

Keys' passage through to the semifinals hasn't been plain sailing, in her first round match, the American defeated Timea Babos 7-6, 6-4 followed by a win over back-to-back Wimbledon quarterfinalist Tamira Paszek 6-1, 6-3 in the second round and coming back from a set down to defeat Jelena Ostapenko 6-7, 6-4, 6-2 in the quarterfinals.

Suárez Navarro has had to battle the weather and three difficult opponents to earn the right to be in the semifinals at the Aegon Classic. The Spaniard defeated last year's French Open quarterfinalist Elina Svitolina 7-5, 4-6, 7-5 in the first round.

Andrea Petkovic was leading a set and a break up against the former top ten player but as Suárez Navarro broke back and eventually got into a second set tie-break, the heavens opened and play was suspended for the day on Thursday.

Suárez Navarro resumed her match against Petkovic and she won the next two sets in two tie-breaks to claim an impressive victory over the former French Open semifinalist.

The next match for Suárez Navarro was the defending champion in Birmingham and the reigning Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber which the Spaniard won in another three-set tussle with a 6-4, 1-6, 7-5 scoreline.

Their history

Keys and Suárez Navarro have met once before on the WTA tour and Keys won their previous battle in the first round in Tokyo back in 2013 on a hard court in the Japanese capital with a 5-7, 7-5, 6-2 scoreline.

Who wins

Keys should be the favourite going into this match as she is the fresher of the two opponents and has been lucky to have a few rest days. 

Suárez Navarro is playing some scintllating tennis on the grass courts, which is her weakest surface as her best results have come on the red dirt and hard courts.

Keys' serve is a weapon on grass and if it's firing on all cyclinders, Keys should win this match comfortably but the Spanish number two could make this difficult for her opponent by producing some drop shots and getting Keys on the move.

Both players will fancy their chances to reach the final in Birmingham and this is an important match as the winner of this match will go into the top ten when the rankings are released on Monday.

It would be an amazing achievement for Keys as it will be the first time she will reach the top ten, whilst Suárez Navarro has already been there before.

This match takes place on the Ann Jones Centre Court at 11am local time and the winner will play 2014 Wimbledon quarterfinalist Barbora Strycova or last year's quarterfinalist at SW19, CoCo Vandeweghe, who won the title at the Ricoh Open last weekend in the championship match on Sunday.

Prediction: Keys in straight sets.