Lucie Hradecka made the doubles semifinals in Miami, hopped a plane to Charleston and immediately began playing qualifying matches. She arrived at 1 p.m. last Saturday and hit the court at 4 p.m.
“I was joking with my coach, I hope so we’ll not be like from plane to car and car to plane and go home,” Hradecka said with a laugh.
On the contrary, Hradecka’s stay in Charleston proved long and fruitful. The 29-year-old Czech, ranked No. 110, won six matches in seven days to make it to Saturday’s semifinals, where she lost 6-1, 6-4 to Madison Keys.
She earned $32,525 for the week, pushing her over the $200,000 mark for the season, and beat two top-30 opponents in No. 25 Caroline Garcia and No. 13 Sara Errani.
That will go a long way toward her goal of reaching her previous high ranking of No. 41.
“I would like to come back to my best ranking,” she said. “We’ll see what I do this year.”
The emotion was apparent when Angelique Kerber and Andrea Petkovic, friends and rivals since they played junior tennis in Germany, hugged after Kerber’s semifinal victory.
“Not many words to say,” Kerber said. “I think everybody saw it.”
Petkovic did not get to see much of Keys this week, but saw enough to know that the young American could be a factor on clay this year.
“I can definitely tell that she can play great on clay,” Petkovic said. “She just has to believe it, and probably with the Americans just get the timing on the sliding a little bit right, because they grow up on hard court.
“But with her game, she definitely has the game for clay. She can — I think she can play really, really well at the French Open.”
Petkovic had won 11 straight matches at the Family Circle Cup, including a run to last year’s title, before her semifinal loss to Kerber on Saturday. She had to withdraw before a match against Caroline Wozniacki in 2013.
“It will never happen again!” Petkovic said of her streak, raising her arms in mock triumph.
As befits a player who has not lost a service game all week, Madison Keys has been in good humor at her press appearances. After her win Saturday, the 20-year-old noted that changing direction in cross-court rallies was a key for her.
Why? she was asked.
“Because that would be far too boring,” she said. “The unforced errors that come when you change down the line on dumb balls are way more fun.”
Sunday’s final between Keys and Kerber is set for 1 p.m. on ESPN2, with Cliff Drysdale and Pam Shriver on the call.
Sunday’s doubles championship between No. 1 seed Martina Hingis/Sania Mirza and Casey Dellacqua/Darija Jurak will be at 10:30 a.m.
A total of 7,916 fans turned out on Saturday to push the week’s total to 78,153 heading into Sunday’s finals.