NEW YORK – The American women have commanding control over the 2017 U.S. Open—and it’s all being done in the absence of Serena Williams.
No. 15-seed Madison Keys overpowered KaiaKanepi in straight sets on Wednesday night, completing the tournament’s final four and joining compatriots Venus Williams, CoCoVandeweghe and Sloane Stephens in the 2017 U.S. Open semifinals. On Thursday, Keys will face Vandeweghe for the third time and Williams will meet Stephens for only the second time in their careers.
Keys’ win marks the first time in 36 years that four women from the United States are into the U.S. Open semifinals. Prior to this year, Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert, Barbara Potter and Tracy Austin were last to accomplish the feat at the U.S. Open in 1981.
“It’s been a great two weeks for American tennis,” said No. 9-seed Williams after beating Petra Kvitova in a three-set battle on Tuesday night. “All I have known all my life was great American players. So it's great to see this resurgence, and I hope it can continue.”
At the start of the tournament, there were 23 American women in the main draw and four reached the quarterfinals, the first time the U.S. was so well-represented at the tournament since 2002, when Jennifer Capriati, Lindsey Davenport, Monica Seles, Serena and Venus all made it to the final eight.
25-year-old Vandeweghe, who upset World No. 1 Karolina Pliskova in the other women’s quarterfinal match earlier in the day on Wednesday, said that she looked up to this older generation of American players when she was growing up.
“Venus last night said it very well that, the younger ones were looking at Lindsay, Jennifer, and Serena and Venus,” she said after her quarterfinals match. “I think that still holds—we wanted to be those same players in a later generation.”
In the Open era, there have only been all-American semifinals five times before this year, and only twice before in New York: 1979 U.S. Open, 1981 U.S. Open, 1982 Australian Open, 1983 Australian Open and 1985 Wimbledon. After her win over No. 16-seed Anastasija Sevastova in the quarterfinals, Stephens was asked if she believed that the Americans would dominate women’s tennis. Her response?
“I didn't think we couldn't,” said Stephens, 24. “American tennis is headed in the right direction, men and women. Sam Querrey is in the quarters. That's also great.
“Yeah, I think we are headed in the right direction.”