American 20th seed Coco Vandeweghe takes on her 15th-seeded compatriot Madison Keys in the women’s semi-finals at Flushing Meadows. Will Keys continue to hold the upper hand over her friend or will Vandeweghe gain revenge for the two losses against her last month?
These two have met twice in their careers and both those matches took place last month on hard courts. The first one was in the final in Stanford where Keys managed to win 7-6 6-4. The two met again in the first round at Cincinnati a week later and Keys once again emerged victorious. That time she beat her compatriot in three sets 6-4 3-6 6-3. The US Open semi-final, however, will be a totally different affair considering it is a big occasion for both. Vandeweghe has benefited hugely from new coach Pat Cash and is in the best shape of her career, both mentally and physically. Beating the same player three times in the span of a month might prove a difficult proposition for Keys, especially when Vandeweghe has the experience of former Wimbledon champion Cash in her team.
Path to the semi-finals
Keys started her US Open campaign with two easy victories over Belgium’s Elise Mertens and Germany’s Tatjana Maria. She was then stretched to three sets against doubles specialist Elena Vesnina of Russia and the fourth seed Elina Svitolina. However, Keys’ last match against unexpected quarter-finalist Kaia Kanepi was fairly easy, which she won 6-3 6-3. One thing that might count against Keys in this match is that she has become somewhat of a nocturnal animal at Flushing Meadows, playing nearly all her matches in the night session. Keys has commented on the unnatural hours it forced her to keep.
Vandeweghe has beaten some big names on her way to the semi-finals and her latest victim in the quarter-final was outgoing world number one Karolina Pliskova. She defeated the Czech in straight sets 7-6 6-3. Her first and third round matches against compatriot Alison Riske and 10th seed Agnieszka Radwanska were particularly testing, both of which she won in three sets. In the fourth round, Vandeweghe beat doubles specialist Lucie Safarova in straight sets, who is never a pushover in these conditions.
How do they match up?
Both players are known for their excellent serves and forehands. Vandeweghe’s serve is amongst the best on the women’s tour due to her perfect technique. Vandeweghe arguably has a superior experience having been a junior champion at Flushing Meadows back in 2008. At an average speed of 74 mph, Keys’ weight of groundstrokes is definitely more but Vandeweghe is known to go for the lines to end points quickly. However, Keys will have confidence on her side, having beaten Vandeweghe in their two previous matches.
This match should be a very close affair and the crowd will also want it that way, cheering for both players as it is a win for America either way. Vandeweghe might just be third-time lucky because she is the mentally stronger of the two and is desperate to reach her first US Open final after a lacklustre showing in the past few years. Vandeweghe to win it in a third set tie break.
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