Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys will reprise last year’s US Open final at the French Open after both players moved into the semifinals on Tuesday at Roland Garros.
Stephens steamrolled No. 14-seeded Russian Daria Kasatkina 6-3, 6-1, and Keys worked past unseeded Yulia Putintseva 7-6(5), 6-4.
“I thought I played pretty solid,” Stephens said afterwards. “I knew that every time you go into a match there are a little bit of nerves that go into it. I knew I had to come out and keep swinging. Sometimes I start well and sometimes a little sluggish. I knew I needed to keep swinging no matter what, even if it was very close, so that’s what I did. And when I got my opportunity to break, I was like, ‘It’s go time.’”
Stephens broke for a 4-1 lead in the first set and would lose only three more games, in the second set winning six in a row. It wasn’t a particularly clean game for either player as Stephens finished -1 in winners to unforced errors, and Kasatkina -15.
Keys has now reached the semifinal stage at three of the four Grand Slams.
“I obviously was down a break in the first,” Keys told the media afterwards. “To be able to get that back and play, I think, a lot better after that was really great. I’m definitely liking the clay a little bit more now that I have made a semifinal here.”
Putintseva served for the first set but was unable to put it away. Keys broke in the seventh game of the second set to maintain her perfect record in Paris, not dropping a set thus far.
“I think the biggest thing is just staying so level-headed after being down a break in the first,” Keys said. “But more than that, I think I served out the match really well. That has not always been easy for me, especially here. To be 30-all, 5-4 and have two really good serves and go for it and trust my game, I think that’s what I’m most happy with.”
Stephens is 2-0 career against her good friend Keys, and the two have never faced on clay, a surface that favors Stephens.
“I obviously lost to Sloane at the US Open, but I feel like on clay it’s a little bit of a different match-up,” Keys said. “I’m going to have to be the one to try to open up the court and go for my shots.”
Stephens said the two friends will get along regardless.
“We are not going to be weird and awkward and make it, like, weird for each other,” Stephens said. “I think everything will be normal. And then when we get on the court, it’s time to compete. It’s go time. Until then, we’re the same girls as always.”
Wednesday quarterfinals at Roland Garros will see (3) Garbine Muguruza vs. (28) Maria Sharapova in a battle of former No. 1 French Open champions, and (1) Simona Halep vs. (12) Angie Kerber.
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