Madison Keys came to Stanford early as the player representative and she's going to be one of the last to leave after a successful run through the Bank of the West Classic led to a spot in Sunday's final.
The third-seeded Keys has had a frustrating season to date, tending to a left wrist injury that delayed the start of her year and limited her to seven tournaments before arriving in the Bay Area.
The 21st-ranked Keys dragged an unlikely 5-7 record on the year into Taube Family Tennis Center and none of those victories were against anyone ranked higher than No. 52.
"To be honest, just being in the final and having some really good matches in and feeling that I’m on a good path right now has been the best part of this whole tournament," said Keys. "Win or lose, that's obviously a huge thing for me. But I do want to win though, so I’m going to do everything that I can to do that."
Her performance his week, first beating the 32nd-ranked Lesia Tsunerko in the quarterfinals and then knocking on top-seeded and fourth-ranked Grabine Muguruza, 6-3, 6-2, in Saturday's semifinal, has to be a confidence booster and should work in her favor against the 24th-ranked CoCo Vandeweghe.
"I would say this is my best performance of the year, as far as playing well from start to finish," Keys said. "Everything was just really solid. I wasn’t going for crazy winners or doing anything amazing. It was just solid, smart tennis."
Keys and Vandeweghe meet for the title at 2 p.m. The doubles final follows.
The sixth-seeded Vandeweghe came into Stanford on a high. She reached the quarterfinals in three of her past five tournaments, including Wimbledon. She's won 10 of her past 12 matches, including a 6-3, 6-1 semifinal victory over Atherton resident CiCi Bellis.
"It was tough," Bellis said. "She’s got a great serve, and it was on, and she's just playing really well overall."
Vandeweghe or Keys will win their first WTA tournament in over a year and grab the early lead in the U.S. Open Series.
Keys beat the reigning Wimbledon champion to reach the finals; Vandeweghe beat the local favorite to get there.
This will be their first meeting.
The semifinal losers can't feel too bad. Bellis, who should move up to a career-high ranking Monday, established herself as the present and future star of the Bank of the West Classic after beating two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova to reach her second ever WTA semifinal.
"This was definitely a great week for me," Bellis said. "One of the best weeks of my career so far. This whole summer’s been great for me. I just want to keep building on this."
After this performance, Bellis established herself as a bona fide player ready for prime time and the bright lights of New York, where her reputation was first established.
Muguzura avoided a letdown after winning the Wimbledon title by getting to the semifinals at Stanford. She kept her game sharp and can walk away with pride.
"I’m happy that I did well here and reached the semifinals," Muguzura said. "I felt great this week, maybe today a little bit worse, but I’m very happy that I came and I think it’s a great start to my American swing."
Vandeweghe will also be playing in the doubles final match with teammate Abigail Spears. They'll face France's Alize Cornet and Poland's Alijca Rosolska following the singles match.