Of the four women in the U.S. Open semifinals, only Venus Williams was alive the last time four Americans occupied all the semifinal spots at the Open, albeit just 1 year old. That was in 1981, when Tracy Austin, Chris Evert, Barbara Potter and Martina Navratilova – who had just become a U.S. citizen – were all in the final four.
Thirty-six years later, Flushing Meadows will finally see an all-American women’s semifinals again, clinched when No. 15 seed Madison Keys defeated Kaia Kanepi in straight sets, 6-3, 6-3, Wednesday night in the last women’s quarterfinal.
Keys will face No. 20 CoCo Vandeweghe, who earlier Wednesday dispatched top seed Karolina Pliskova in straight sets. That match will follow No. 9 Venus Williams vs. unseeded Sloane Stephens. It is the first all-American semifinal at a grand slam since 1985.
“I was real nervous today,” Keys said in an on-court TV interview after the match. “The car ride over I was definitely feeling (pressure,) but once I got here I felt really good.”
It is a remarkable achievement for the American women, especially considering Serena Williams isn’t among the group, currently away from the sport having given birth. The last time three American women had made the semis at the Open was in 2002, when Serena and Venus Williams, and Lindsay Davenport all qualified.
This is the best-ever U.S. Open for the 22-year-old Keys, who had been in her first Open quarterfinal. She’s now in her second career grand-slam semifinal, the other coming at the 2015 Australian Open.
Keys is 2-0 against Vandeweghe, both matches this year, but Thursday night will mark their first meeting in a grand slam. Keys broke Kanepi three times, including in the final game to seal the victory in an hour and nine minutes.