Keys, Hradecka surprise semifinalists at Family Circle Cup

Madison Keys returns to Lauren Davis during Friday’s quarterfinal match at the Family Circle Cup.
Madison Keys returns to Lauren Davis during Friday’s quarterfinal match at the Family Circle Cup. AP

Madison Keys and Lucie Hradecka are finding their games on clay and are both surprise semifinalists at the Family Circle Cup.

Keys, the seventh seed, put on a dominating show to beat fellow American and one-time training partner Lauren Davis, 6-2, 6-2. Hradecka, a qualifier from the Czech Republic, topped her second seeded player in as many days, knocking out No. 4 seed Sara Errani, 6-2, 6-4.

The two will square off Saturday for a spot in their first championship final of the year.

Third-seeded Andrea Petkovic brought some stability – and as defending champion, a familiar name – into the semifinals with a 2-6, 6-3, 6-1 victory over qualifier Danka Kovinic. Petkovic will try and reach her second straight final here against German countrywoman and good friend in fifth-seeded Angelique Kerber.

Kerber beat 13th seeded Irina-Camelia Begu 7-6 (3), 7-6 (4).

The power-hitting Keys, 20, came into the even with a losing record on clay. Yet, she’s lost only nine games her first three matches here this week with a dazzling display of power and poise.

“I haven’t really had many complaints about how I’ve been playing,” Keys said. “Not trying to get too high on myself of anything like that. Just really trying to move forward and keep playing how I’m playing.”

That game made her impossible for Davis, 21, to match up with. Keys regularly sent serves in excess of 110 mph toward her opponent and, should the shot have been returned, sent back shots into the corners that appeared even faster.

Clay had been Keys least favorite surface – she was 11-13 on it the previous three years – and even she’s a bit stunned at her results. “It’s not the easiest game for me, being on clay,” she said. “But so far it’s been (a) pretty good transition.”

Hrdecka, ranked 110th coming in this week, had no such concerns about clay courts. Of her 10 trips to semifinals as a professional, nine have come on the slower, softer surface.

This year, Hradecka’s has had the added burden of qualifying to get into main draws as she did at Charleston. And Hradecka has taken full advantage of it at the Family Circle. She advanced to the quarterfinals by defeating eight-seed Caroline Garcia on Thursday, then followed that up with an easier than expected win over Errani – the Italian who had the most success on clay of any of the quarterfinalists.

Hradecka, who has played six matches in seven days, remembers joking with her coach last Saturday after arriving in Charleston that she hoped they wouldn’t be getting off a plane, getting into a car, playing a match and then returning to the airport.

“It’s a week later and I’m still here,” she said, smiling.

Friday’s Results

At Charleston

Purse: $731,000 (Premier)

Surface: Green Clay-Outdoor

Singles Quarterfinals

Madison Keys (7), United States, def. Lauren Davis, United States, 6-2, 6-2.

Lucie Hradecka, Czech Republic, def. Sara Errani (4), Italy, 6-2, 6-4.

Andrea Petkovic (3), Germany, def. Danka Kovinic, Montenegro, 2-6, 6-3, 6-1.

Angelique Kerber (5), Germany, def. Irina-Camelia Begu (13), Romania, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (4).