Madison Keys sealed a place in her first hardcourt final since the 2017 US Open with a 7-5 6-4 win over compatriot Sofia Kenin at the Western & Southern Open on Saturday.
Keys hit a superb 41 winners in the all-American clash to book a final showdown with Svetlana Kuznetsova, who produced a dominant performance to see off world number two Ashleigh Barty 6-2 6-4 in Cincinnati.
Kenin saved set point in the opener against Keys before battling back from 5-2 down to 5-5, only for the world number 16 to claim back-to-back games and avert a tiebreak at the WTA Premier event.
Keys was twice a break down in the second set but combined grit with blistering attacking play to down Kenin, avenging a three-set loss in Rome earlier this year.
Kuznetsova is currently down at 153 in the world rankings after periods on the sidelines but has made the most of her wildcard in Cincinnati.
Despite slipping to 2-0 down in the opener, the two-time grand slam champion clicked into gear spectacularly and reeled off eight consecutive games – a forehand return winner on break point to go 5-2 up a particular highlight.
Barty belatedly held for 1-2 in the second to stop the rot but would never another good look at her opponent's serve. Indeed, Kuznetsova avoided giving up break point opportunities in any of her last eight service games.
The result prevented Barty from returning to number one in the WTA rankings after Naomi Osaka was forced to withdraw due to a knee injury in the quarter-finals.