The next generation of U.S. players will meet in the final of the US Open after Madison Keys and Sloane Stephens prevailed in semifinals on Thursday at Flushing Meadows.
The No. 15-seeded Keys kept her career record against fellow American CoCo Vandeweghe perfect, overwhelming the Californian 6-1, 6-2. It was her third straight event the two meet, and the outcome was the same.
“It feels absolutely amazing,” said Keys. “These are the moments growing up that you dream about, and, you know, to be sitting here as a US Open finalist, it feels really amazing.”
The 22-year-old Keys lost only three points on serve during the opening set.
“I played really, really well,” she said. “It was kind of one of those days where I came out and I was kind of in a zone, and I just kind of forced myself to stay there. I knew I was going to have to play really well in order to beat her, and, you know, I feel like once things started going, it just kind of fell into place. You know, luckily I was able to close it out the way that I did.”
Vandeweghe, who upset top seed and world No. 1 Karolina Pliskova, was, like Keys, also in her second Slam semifinal.
“None of it had anything to do with the occasion,” Vandeweghe said. “It was more Madison played an unbelievable match. I didn’t really have much to do with anything out there.
“I think it’s hard to look back on it now, the way I’m feeling right now, but it’s an amazing experience to be in the semifinal, to be here playing for my country and to know that I worked this hard to get here, but it’s a pretty crummy feeling right now.”
Keys, though, did have a late match issue with her hamstring.
“I felt it at the end of my match the other day, and then I just didn’t want it to become something that would be bad,” Keys said. “So as soon as I kind of felt it get the tiniest bit worse, I just had it wrapped to try and prevent anything from happening.”
In the final, Keys will meet her fellow American Stephens, who won a back-and-forth nail-biting meeting with fellow American and former No. 1 legend Venus Williams 6-1, 0-6, 7-5.
Both players are appearing in their first Grand Slam final.
“I’m super happy to be in a Grand Slam final,” Stephens said. “To do it here, obviously, my home Slam, is obviously more special. I think this is what every player dreams about.”
At 5-5 in the third Stephens broke at love, including an incredible get-lob that barely floated over Venus’ head.
“I hit that lob thingy. I don’t know what that was. That was great,” Stephens said. “I think that really gave me some momentum and really pumped me up. Those were the type of opportunities I was talking about, when you get your chance, you’ve really just got to take it and make the most of it.”
Venus missed out a chance in her third Slam final of the season. She’s still searching for the final big title since 2008 Wimbledon.
“It was definitely a contrast of play,” Venus said. “You know, I continued to play aggressive and continued to play the kind of match that it takes to win. Just made too many errors there at the end.”
Stephens won her only career meeting with Keys, in 2015 at Miami in straight sets.
“I have known her for a long time,” Stephens said. “She’s probably one of my closest friends on tour. Love her to death…Whether I win the tournament or not, like, I’m a Grand Slam finalist, and no one will ever be able to take that away from me.”
It will be the first all-American final at the US Open since 2002, when Serena Williams defeated her sister Venus.
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