There may only be one American ranked inside the world’s Top 10 players, but four will take the court in the U.S. Open women’s semifinals on Thursday night.
For the first time in 36 years, the final four players remaining in the draw are all from the United States. Madison Keys completed the clean quarterfinal sweep with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Kaia Kanepi on Wednesday. Keys will play Coco Vandeweghe in Thursday’s second match, following Sloane Stephens Vs. Venus Williams at 7 p.m.
Stephens comes into the match on a meteoric rise late in the summer after coming back from a foot injury that sidelined her for 11 months. Her ranking dropped all the way to Number 957 in the world, but has since climbed back up into the Top 100. If she wins the title, she’ll be at Number 15 in the world, but first has to go through one of the all-time greats.
Stephens defeated Williams in the only matchup between the two players in the second round of the 2015 French Open. But like Stephens, Williams is on a comeback journey of her own. She hasn’t been to a U.S. Open semifinal in seven years, and hasn’t won a Grand Slam of any kind in more than nine years. After making it to the final of the Australian Open and Wimbledon this year, she’ll try to break through at the home slam.
The Vandeweghe Vs. Keys matchup provides a much different storyline. It’s two younger players with a chance for their breakout moment. Vandeweghe is 25 years old and has matured into one of the better, more boisterous players on the tour. Keys is just 22, but has a penchant for playing late into the night at Arthur Ashe Stadium — twice she’s ended wins just before 2 a.m. Both players have reached a Grand Slam semifinal, but neither has won that match before. Something’s got to give on Thursday night.
These semifinals pit four of the best players the United States has to give. In the recent past, there have been plenty of capable American female players, but none outside the Williams sisters have won. And for the most part, it’s only been Serena Williams, who gave birth to her first child on September 1st and isn’t competing.
This semifinals presents an opportunity for a new face. Now the only mystery is which player it will be.