U.S. Open final preview and prediction: Keys vs. Stephens

It will be an all-American final at the U.S. Open on Saturday.

Of course, that much was guaranteed even before Thursday’s semis. All four semifinalists–Sloane Stephens, Venus Williams, Madison Keys, and Coco Vandeweghe–hailed from the host nation. Now two–Stephens and Keys–remain.

The two relatively surprising finalists will be going head-to-head for just the second time in their careers when they battle for a Grand Slam title in front of what will undoubtedly be a buzzing American crowd. Their only previous encounter came two years ago on the hard courts of Miami, where Stephens prevailed 6-4, 6-2.

To say it has been a rocky road for the 24-year-old since then would be a gross understatement. To put it simply, she disappeared from the WTA Tour for basically an entire year. Due mostly to being absent because of a foot injury, Stephens did not win a single match in between Wimbledon in 2016 and Toronto just last month. She did not even play in between the 2016 Rio Olympics and Wimbledon in 2017.

“Eventually I will beat someone,” Stephens said after falling to Simona Halep in Washington, D.C. for her second consecutive opening-round loss of her comeback.

Well, it’s safe to say she is beating someone now. She has beaten 14 opponents to be exact over her last three tournaments, including this one. The unbelievable stretch includes back-to-back semifinal showings in Toronto and Cincinnati plus U.S. Open wins over Roberta Vinci, Dominika Cibulkova, Ashleigh Barty, Julia Goerges, Anastasija Sevastova, and Venus Williams. Less than a month ago, Stephens was ranked as low as No. 934 in the world.

Although Keys’ appearance in this final is far less surprising, these two countrywomen sport somewhat similar resumes. Prior to this U.S. Open, both had reached exactly one major quarterfinal and one major semifinal in their careers. Not too much unlike Stephens, Keys’ 2017 campaign had been a disappointment–at least at slams. She missed the Australian Open following left-wrist surgery and lost in the second round of both the French Open and Wimbledon. The 22-year-old, however, laid the groundwork for her run in New York by winning the Stanford title and holding match points against upcoming world No. 1 Garbine Muguruza in the Cincinnati third round (Muguruza ended up lifting the trophy).

Keys has dropped only two sets this fortnight–to 17th-seeded Elena Vesnina and No. 4 seed Elina Svitolina–while Stephens has needed a quartet of three-setters to advance. While Stephens survived a thriller against Williams on Thursday night, Keys annihilated Coco Vandeweghe 6-1, 6-2.

“I played really, really well,” the world No. 16 said following her semifinal victory. “It was kind of one of those days where I came out and I was kind of in a zone, and I just kind of forced myself to stay there. I knew I was going to have to play really well in order to beat her, and I feel like once things started going it just kind of fell into place…. It feels absolutely amazing. You know, these are the moments growing up that you dream about.”

Stephens’ dream run in New York has been hard to believe, but she may be up against it on Saturday. Her defense ultimately got the best of Williams, but Keys’ offensive firepower is superior even to that of the 37-year-old legend. Keys has been the best player throughout this tournament and there is no reason to think that will change in the championship match.

Pick: Keys in 3

20 Comments on U.S. Open final preview and prediction: Keys vs. Stephens

      • I confess I am not a Sloane fan. When she came in the WTA scene she just appeared to be too cocky, I did not like that at all. Hopefully she is maturing now, and she is still very young………..

  1. I pick Keys, even though I would really like Sloane to win , but I think Sloane has been fortuitous in reaching the final.

  2. I backed both players to win all their matches except in the semis where i thought they would lose but they won.
    I haven’t made my final decision but i like S. Stephens to win or over games, you can also pick both for high odds.
    Sloane Stephens to win & over games cos she is balling, both are balling and this is difficult cos M. Keys is a good player & dangerous.
    Sloane Stephens is leading in the H2H 1-0 and i underestimated her against V. Williams and she proved me wrong.
    1) http://www.tennisexplorer.com/match-detail/?id=1606462
    2) http://www.tennisexplorer.com/match-detail/?id=1606115

    i won’t underestimate her again, i think both players are friends and i would rather go with the over games to stay neutral or avoid this match than to bet against S. Stephens.

    I will let you know what i decide when i am done, cos i might change my mind when i start looking at statistics.

    Vamos Stephens!
    Vamos Del Potro! This one is risky.

  3. I think it’s about who handles the occasion.Stephens might suffer a reaction after the epic semi.Madison however,destroyed Coco ,it’s hard to ignore that.Keys in three.

  4. Next Juan Martin Del Potro & Sloane Stephens.

    I am not confident but i like the over games, you stay neutral that way.

    Where are you?
    Are you cooking lol?
    Are you on date or something?
    Is she beautiful?
    Don’t let her order something above your wallet OK.
    Don’t split the bill, be a man.
    Are you a Real Man or a Big Boy?
    Where are you bro?

  5. I’m watching this final. And so far it is hard to tell if one or the other is better. Madison is over hitting the ball and gives Sloane the first break!

  6. Congratulations Sloane Stephens, 64 60 win over Madison Keys.

    Better Luck next time Madison! You can do it! Well played to both.

  7. Sloane & Stanley are meant to be together 4ever & ever.

    Congrats to my baby, she destroyed Madison Keys.
    Well done Sloane, future #1.

Comments are closed.

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