There will be an American champion at the US Open this year. All four semifinalists on the women’s side of the tournament are from the United States. Of the four, only Venus Williams has been in a grand slam final before. With these exceptional women playing some of the best tennis of their respective careers, the end of this tournament promises to be full of matches to remember. From 37 year old Williams to 22 year old Keys, these are fiercely competitive women, all of whom have a realistic chance at winning this year’s US Open. If nothing else, there will be an all American final.
V. Williams (9) v. S. Stephens
Venus Williams and Petra Kvitova have always produced pulsating tennis. Every single one of their six professional meetings, including their quarterfinal, have gone to three sets. Venus’ level of play during that match, and the grit she showed in winning the third set tie-break, were strong indicators of why she is the favorite in the semifinal match today. Sloane Stephens, after years sidelined with injury and bad form, rediscovered her game against Anastasija Sevastova, but Williams will be an entirely different prospect.
Williams’ aggressive style of play is not totally dissimilar to Stephens’ own, but Williams is both more experienced, and more controlled in her application of power. In a match that may hinge on big moments, Williams will back herself to play her toughest tennis when the scoreline calls for it. Stephens will hope that the 37 year old Williams is still recovering from her emotional and lengthy match against Kvitova. Stephens won her quarterfinal in straight sets and is thirteen years younger than Williams. What she may lack in experience she will try to make up for with athleticism and enthusiasm. Expect Williams to prevail in straight sets, but not comfortably.
M. Keys (15) v. C. Vandeweghe (20)
Coco Vandeweghe is a different player than she was the last time she went this deep in a grand slam. With added variety in her game and a willingness to rally with opponents rather than try to belt winners every other shot and hope for the best, she has become a dangerous threat to anyone on tour. Pat Cash, Vandeweghe’s new coach, has imparted to her the dual need to 1) find strategic ways to deploy her power and 2) build a more well-rounded game. He has also worked with Vandeweghe to limit distractions when she is competing. Vandeweghe has excelled at this US Open, not only blasting players off the court, but also playing a controlled brand of power tennis that has proved too much for even top seeds like Radwanska and, in the quarterfinals, world number one Karolina Pliskova.
Madison Keys, a player who also favors a power game, has made her way through the women’s draw playing increasingly self-assured tennis. She has dismantled the games of talented players on her way to the semifinals and will look to do the same to Vandeweghe. If Vandeweghe keeps her head and plays the way she did against Radwanska and Pliskova, she should win this match in two tight sets, possible three. Expect Vandeweghe to come out swinging, looking to dominate early. If she does that successfully, her confidence will build and she could run away with the match. Keys is a tough competitor, but few women on tour can hang with Vandeweghe when she is swinging freely.