Friday, September 8, 2017

Stephens survives, Keys coasts in U.S. Open semis

Madison Keys serves in last month's Bank of the West Classic at Stanford.
Photo by Mal Taam
   Sloane Stephens, who grew up in Fresno, and Madison Keys, who won the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford last month, reached the U.S. Open final in contrasting fashion on Thursday.
   The unseeded Stephens came within two points of losing before pulling out a 6-1, 0-6, 7-5 victory over ninth-seeded Venus Williams in Flushing Meadows, N.Y. Stephens, hitting fearlessly, won the last three games as the 37-year-old Williams wilted under the pressure.
   "I have a lot of grit," Stephens, 24, told reporters. "I don't give up. Like, I'm not going to give it to someone. I'm not just going to let them take it from me."
   Keys, seeded 15th, then needed only 1 hour, 6 minutes to dispatch CoCo Vandeweghe, seeded 20th, 6-1, 6-2 in a rematch of the Bank of the West final. The match would have lasted less than an hour except that Keys left the court at 4-1 in the second set to have her right thigh taped.
   "I think I played pretty well tonight," deadpanned Keys, 22.
   Stephens and Keys, who are close friends, will meet on Saturday in the first Grand Slam final for both and the first all-American women's final at Flushing Meadows since Serena Williams defeated Venus Williams in 2002. ESPN will televise the match at 1 p.m. PDT.
   Stephens and Keys have played each other only once. Stephens won 6-4, 6-2 on a hardcourt in the second round in Miami in 2015, but that could have been a function of age.
   The U.S. Open finalists have made astonishing recoveries from surgery.
   Keys, a right-hander with a two-handed backhand, had procedures on her left wrist in November and June. Stephens underwent surgery on her left foot in January. Ranked as high as No. 11 in 2013, she dropped out of the top 900.
   Meanwhile, Bob and Mike Bryan's Grand Slam title drought in men's doubles continues. Seeded fifth, the 39-year-old former Stanford stars lost to 11th-seeded Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez (no relation) of Spain 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. The Bryans won the last of their record 16 majors in the 2014 U.S. Open.
   Stanford senior Tom Fawcett defeated Thai-Son Kwiatkowski, who won the NCAA singles title as a Virginia senior in May, 7-6 (5), 6-4 in the first round of the eight-player Men's Collegiate Invitational.
   Katie Volynets, 15, of Walnut Creek in the San Francisco Bay Area, beat Anastasia Kharitonova of Russia 6-3, 7-6 (4) to reach the girls quarterfinals. Volynets will play 13-year-old U.S. sensation Cori Gauff.
   Sam Riffice, an 18-year-old Sacramento native now based in Orlando, Fla., lost to Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 in the third round of the boys event.

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