The women’s final of the U.S. Open takes place Saturday, and between now and then there’s still the semifinals to be played, but we already know this much: an American woman will win.
For the first time since 1981 it’s an all-American semifinal in Flushing Meadows. Madison Keys made sure of that Wednesday, defeating Kaia Kanepi 6-3, 6-3. She’ll now join fellow Americans CoCo Vandeweghe (who Keys will face Thursday), Venus Williams and Sloane Stephens in the semis.
The last time there was an All-American semi at the U.S. Open it was Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Tracy Austin and Barbara Potter. The difference between then and now, though, is massive. American women haven’t filled all four semifinal slots at any Grand Slam event since 1985.
Evert, Austin and Navratilova were seeded Nos. 1, 3 and 4, respectively, with Potter (11) the only real surprise semifinalist. It could be said that all four Americans this year are stunners.
Vandeweghe and Stephens are unseeded, and Keys is the 15th seed. Williams is seeded ninth, and while a legend of the game, is tennis ancient at 37. To call this final foursome improbable is to say water is wet.
And yet one of them will win the final Grand Slam of the 2017 season.
Of the four, only Williams has even been to a Grand Slam final, and while this is her third slam semifinal of the year, she hasn’t won one since 2008.
It’s a boom tourney for American women’s tennis. This is in stark contrast to the men’s side, where the U.S. is now at Year 14 without a grand slam victory. The last American victory came via Andy Roddick at the 2003 U.S. Open, and when Sam Querrey lost in the quarterfinals Tuesday night, it assured another year of futility for the U.S. men.
Thursday, it’s Keys vs. Vandeweghe, Williams vs. Stephens. Then it’s on to the finals, where for the first time since 2008 (when Venus won at Wimbledon), an American woman not named Serena Williams will win a grand slam.