From 'dark moments' to Slam semis, Keys unlocks success

Sloane Stephens

Vandeweghe upended top-seeded Czech Karolina Pliskova 7-6 (4), 6-3, while Keys easily got past Kaia Kanepi 6-3, 6-3.

American veteran Venus Williams and Sloane Stephens have already set up an all-American semifinal in the bottom half in the previous day.

"I think Sloane is really good at defending, obviously, but I think we're similar in the fact that we both like to try to attack and be on offense". "The fact that there is going to be two all-American semifinals, two people in the finals on Saturday, and there are lots of young up-and-comers". "There was definitely the fear that a lot of players have struggled coming back from it". "If someone told me this is where I would be, right before Wimbledon, I wouldn't have believed you".

It's the first time that four American women have reached the semifinals at the US Open since 1981, when Tracy Austin, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova and Barbara Potter did it.

The last time four Americans reached the semifinals at any Grand Slam event was 1985 at Wimbledon.

No. 15 Madison Keys and 20th-seeded CoCo Vandeweghe meet in the second semifinal.

Stephens dominated the first set before being dominated by Williams in the second.

She was the junior champion in NY in 2008, but never had success in the main draw until now: Of her previous eight appearances, half ended in the first round, half in the second.

Keys reaches her first grand slam final appearance.

Keys, the 15th seed in NY, was in devastating form, brushing past Vandeweghe 6-1, 6-2 in just 66 minutes on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Williams was trying for her third major final of the year and her first at the U.S. Open since 2002.

U.S. Open semifinalist Juan Martin del Potro and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova have won the U.S. Open sportsmanship awards. She's one of the greatest competitors. "The team works as hard as I do".

Graciously acknowledging her opponent, Stephens said, "I'm honestly just honored to be able to play at the same time as her". It is a process and here I am.

"Maybe I'm going to feel better on the next grand slams". "Maybe it's like some Jedi mind trick", said Vandeweghe, who still did not hide her emotions on court, such as when she cracked a racket against the ground after a second consecutive double-fault in the opening set. She owns seven major championships, two at the U.S. Open in 2000 and 2001.

Vandeweghe won 81 percent of her first-serve points to keep Pliskova on the defensive, but the former was thrilled with how she reacted to the latter's serves.

"I watched the match last night with Venus and think she said it best".

Del Potro, who saved two match points to defeat sixth seed Dominic Thiem from two sets down in a fourth-round thriller, has been plagued by injury ever since his moment in the NY spotlight eight years ago.

With the crowd buzzing under the closed roof inside Arthur Ashe, Keys showed some early jitters but they disappeared with an early break on the way to taking the first set.

Why are you back in LA?' She said, 'Unfortunately I have to have surgery.' She went in a couple of days later.

Asked if it was tough to get into rhythm against someone who hits the ball as hard as she does, Kanepi responded, "Yes, she did hit quite hard and it was tough to get into the point from her serve". Without any pressure, Keys overcame her nerves and comfortably held her serve to clinch the first set 6-1 after just 23 minutes of play, steamrolling through this semi-final encounter.

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