With the US Open at the semi final stage, the tournament will now have a guaranteed American winner on the women’s side after Madison Keys and CoCo Vandeweghe won their matches on Wednesday. Venus Williams has a huge chance of winning her 8th slam and first since Wimbledon 2008. She made the final three straight times at the start of the century, winning twice, but has not made a US Open final since 2002. Her opponent will be Sloane Stephens in just her second slam semi final.
Sloane had to enter the draw with her protected ranking after a long time out with injury although it is fair to assume she would have been wildcarded if necessary. She proved her fitness over the summer and showed great glimpses of form with two semi finals in the Premier events and a number of impressive wins. She has had to beat three seeds to get this far, most recently Anastasija Sevastova in the previous round. After winning the first set, she struggled for large parts and would find herself down a break multiple times in the deciding set. She showed great nerve to take the final set tiebreak amongst great expectations from the crowd. The home crowd will have helped Sloane there although that advantage does go away for the final 2 matches with them now guaranteed a winner. “Obviously as an American, playing at your home slam, to have the crowd like that behind you, is incredible. I don’t think there is any better feeling or better moment you’ll get out of playing tennis.” she said of the atmosphere.
Venus was seen as one of the contenders at the start of the tournament but a potential quarter final against Garbine Muguruza, who defeated her at Wimbledon, looked to be the likely sticking point. A shock Petra Kvitova win in round four put paid to that but the Czech gave Venus as good as she got too. A final set tiebreak was all that separated the pair, with Venus rushing away at the end in something of an anticlimactic finish to a great match. ”
Sometimes you have opportunities and sometimes you take them and you don’t, but it’s not like you get opportunity after opportunity after opportunity in these sorts of matches. You have to take the ones you have. I was happy to have a little more luck today, actually.” she commented post-match.
It is amazing to see what Venus Williams has achieved at the age of 37 with her sister absent from the tour after her pregnancy and now birth of her first child. A third slam final would be incredible for Venus and while Sloane would likely prefer an attacking player like Venus, she will need to improve on serve against an opponent unlikely to give much up. A first time winner is guaranteed if Sloane wins though, a major boost for American tennis in the final years of the Williams sisters career. Madison Keys seems the likely opponent for the winner of this match although CoCo Vandeweghe will be no easy match for her. “It’s been a great two weeks for American tennis. Seeing all the American players in the draw and all of them advancing so deep and competing so well. 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.” Venus said.
Prediction – Venus Williams in straight sets