Stephens, Keys make it an
Erin Maher | September 7, 2017
And then there were two.
On Thursday, Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys secured their spots in the first All-American women’s final at the US Open since 2002.
Stephens was first up under the night lights in Arthur Ashe Stadium, upsetting seven-time major champion Venus Williams, 6-1, 6-0, 7-5. The compatriots breezed through two wildly lopsided first sets, before going shot-for-shot in the third.
The third set saw the exchange of four breaks over the first eight games until both held to 5-5. But Stephens persevered with precise shot placement and strong serves.
Stephens’ win will have her contend for her first Grand Slam title on Saturday, in her 23rd major showing. Her win also makes her the 14th unseeded player to advance to a Grand Slam final in the Open era.
“I have no words to describe what I’m feeling, what it took to get there,” said Stephens, who just recently returned from foot surgery, on the court after her victory. ADVERTISEMENT “It’s just a journey. I have no words. When I started my comeback, if someone told me I’d make two Grand Slam semis and a final, I would probably have passed out."
Stephens was ranked world No. 957 entering the 2017 US Open Series, after missing 11 months due to her injury. She’s currently ranked No. 83 – and climbing. On Monday her ranking will jump to at least No. 22, making her ascent over 900 spots in just six short weeks.
Keys' ticket into the final was much faster than Stephens' three-set slog.
The Illinois native’s game was close to perfect Thursday night. She dropped only three games to fellow American and good friend CoCo Vandeweghe, 6-1, 6-2.
Keys was strategic and precise, with 25 winners and only eight errors.
In the second set, Keys and her flaming game looked to be in peril when she took a medical timeout. But she erred on the side of caution and came back to the court blazing, breaking to go up 5-1 and finishing the match in just over an hour.
When asked what Keys thought the matches Thursday said of American tennis, she replied, “It can’t really get any better than this, could it?”