Youth prevailed over experience, as Sloane Stephens defeated Venus Williams in a closely contested three set match. Sloane and Venus kicked off the night that featured two semifinals matches that consisted of all Americans (the first time that happened at the Open since 1981). It was a bizarre match that took many twist and turns throughout the course of the night.
In the first set, it was crystal clear that Venus was unsettled. Venus committed error after error (17 in total), giving Sloane the set in what seemed like the blink of an eye. But Venus did not let that deter her, allowing her to make a complete 180 in the second set. Both the serve and the groundstrokes began to click and Venus overpowered Sloane to win all six games in the second set.
With only an hour into the match and the ladies beginning the final third set, it was anyone’s guess as to what would happen for the remainder of the match. With Sloane being rock solid in the first and Venus raising her level, exponentially in the second, tennis fans had to be thinking (praying) that the ladies would be both playing at a high level in the third. They did not disappoint!
The third set was filled with unbelievable shots from both players. Sloane immediately broke Venus to start the third set. Venus eventually broke back. It appeared that Venus had the momentum at 5-4, with Sloane serving to stay in the set. In the previous game, Venus saved numerous break points and held after a near 10 minute game. At 30-30, Venus was just two points from winning the match and looked like she was going to have a match point when she ventured forward to end a point. However, Sloane hit an incredible backhand passing shot, that Venus could only look at in agony. Sloane would then go on to hold and tie the match at 5-5.
Having wrestled the momentum back in her favor, Sloane used her incredible defensive skills, to break the Venus Williams serve. At one-point Sloane ran down a net court shot and flicked the ball over for a drop shot winner. Sloane hit shots so good Venus in her post conference interview stated, “There was nothing I could do about those shots.” After breaking Venus, Sloane held to win the match, 6-1, 0-6, 7-5.
Sloane who missed 10 months due to injury said after the match, “When I started my comeback, if you told me I was going to make two semis and a Grand Slam final I would have just passed out, because that’s what I’m going to do now. It’s incredible. I don’t know how I got here.”
The second all American semifinal was nothing like the first. Madison Keys dominated Coco Vandeweghe from start to finish. The only interesting thing that happened in this match was when Keys took a medical timeout to get her thigh wrapped. Keys won the match 6-1, 6-2.
Saturday’s final between Keys and Stephens will be a battle of the two most touted young American women. Many wonder who would take the mantel when Venus and Serena decide to retire. For some time now, Madison and Sloane were atop the list. Now the tennis world will see who steps up when the two meet.
The women’s final will air on Saturday at 4pm on ESPN