Thursday’s Set Points, US Open Day 11: Madison Keys vs. Sloane Stephens for a first Slam title

Set PointsThe 2017 US Open semi-finals were played on Thursday night in New York and it was a historic evening with four American women competing for a place in Saturday’s final. The semi-finals began at 7pm local time with a first match-up since 2015 between Sloane Stephens and Venus Williams, followed by a third meeting this summer between Madison Keys and CoCo Vandeweghe with both going for their first Slam final.

In the first semi-final, Sloane Stephens beat Venus Williams, 6-1 0-6 7-5, to reach her first Slam final and maintain her 100% record in three set matches this year – the 73-minute third set took longer than the first two sets combined! I’ll definitely be watching back the third set later tonight, which sounded mega. The point with Stephens serving at *4-5 *30-30 was clearly huge (linked below).

Stephens broke to love at 5-5 and then served out the match to 15, winning 10 of the last 11 points. Sloane is now 8-0 in three set matches since her comeback.

Considering Stephens only made her comeback from the foot injury at Wimbledon, to be in the final of the next Slam is a truly extraordinary effort. Superlatives do not do justice to what Stephens has achieved in the last few months. 51 unforced errors was clearly a factor in this loss for Venus, but it’s still been a sensational year at the Slams for her. Venus is set to return to the world’s top five in next week’s rankings and is looking good to qualify for the WTA Finals in Singapore.

In the second semi-final, Madison Keys soared past CoCo Vandeweghe, 6-1 6-2 in 66 minutes. It was Keys’s third win over Vandeweghe this summer and by far the most convincing result of the three. Keys’s stats were fantastic – 25 winners to just 9 unforced errors! CoCo was emotional in her press conference and despite this result still being raw, she was already able to draw on the positives from the tournament. Like Venus, hats off to CoCo for her record at the Slams this year.

I never doubted that Keys would make at least a Slam final in her career but can’t say I saw it was on the cards this year after everything she has been through with the wrist. Super happy for Madison 😊

Soooo… Madison vs. Sloane. I am really excited for this final! It’s an incredible achievement from both players and a damn good story after what both have been through with injuries over the past year or so. I always like to see new Slam champs and we are guaranteed our second one of the year on Saturday.

Press conferences are linked below – both were understandably happy! Sloane talked about watching the Australian Open on her couch, while Madison spoke about the medical time-out in the second set of her semi-final being precautionary.

Both have played the big points well this tournament, especially Stephens who has been forced to three sets in her last three matches and deep against Sevastova and Williams, winning 7-6 and 7-5 respectively. Her ability to stay calm in the key moments is something I keep going on and on about, but I feel that it’s noteworthy since it’s not something that hit me before the foot injury. Her movement has been fantastic at this tournament and she spoke in her semi-final press conference about the importance of improving her footwork.

Keys’s serve has been very effective at this tournament and she has handled the occasions well, becoming a permanent fixture in the night sessions. After a huge win over Svitolina in the fourth round, she has dropped just nine games in her last two matches against Kanepi and Vandeweghe. For the final, Keys will need to adjust to playing in daylight!

In their only previous match, Stephens beat Keys in Miami in 2015, 6-4 6-2. I vaguely remember that match as Keys was coming off her Australian Open semi-final run and she just couldn’t get her game going at all.

For this final, it will be fascinating to see whether Keys can hit through Stephens – Keys has the more obvious raw power and she’s done a great job at controlling it this tournament. Stephens’s base level though has been so solid, particularly in the crux moments, and her ability to chase down balls and keep her opponent on the move has been impressive – it may be a key factor in the final if Keys’s leg is an issue. You never quite know how a player will react in a Slam final and deal with their nerves and the emotions of the situation. Even more so in this one since it’s a first Slam final for both and at home.

Heart says Madison, head says Sloane.

As always, hoping for a competitive final. Bring it on…

Follow Moo’s Tennis Blog on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Feature Photo by Omar Boraby

4 thoughts on “Thursday’s Set Points, US Open Day 11: Madison Keys vs. Sloane Stephens for a first Slam title

  1. What was the taping on keys thigh. Great thighs btw ehehehe #creeper. I’m goin for Sloaney. She carries herself well and doesn’t really look under pressure so she’ll swing freely. DEFFF 3 setter. Ploise!!

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