The Runner Sports

Four American Women Compete In The Quarterfinals Of The US Open

Venus Williams, Madison Keys, Coco Vandeweghe, and Sloane Stephens are all through to the quarterfinals of the US Open. The last time there were at least that many American women in the last eight was 2002. That group also included Venus. The other American women were multiple Grand Slam winners as well: Serena Williams, Lindsay Davenport, Jennifer Capriati, and Monica Seles. With an almost new crew of American women making waves at the US Open, these players also have a chance to make it even further. Women’s tennis has been incredibly deep as of late. Twenty-three American women were entered in the US Open this year. The four players left in the draw have a chance to make it an all-American semifinal, guaranteeing an American champion.

Vandeweghe has the tallest mountain to climb, going up against world No. 1 Karolina Pliskova. The one thing going for Vandeweghe is how Pliskova has struggled with the expectations that comes with the number one ranking. Pliskova only needed 47 minutes in her last match against another American, Jennifer Brady, but do not count Vandeweghe out. Vandeweghe has a big serve and forehand, but has also worked on her volleys to become a more all-around player. Pliskova somehow managed to get through rounds two and three, but her slow starts show vulnerability. Vandeweghe should be pretty confident in that matchup.

Venus will take on Petra Kvitova, who has found her game in New York, knocking out 3rd seed Garbine Muguruza in the last round. Venus and Kvitova match up well against each other; strong baseline games centered around the consistency of their first serve. Venus has the edge on volleys, and the crowd will definitely be rooting for her despite Kvitova’s inspiring comeback. Do not be surprised if this match goes three sets with a couple tiebreaks. The last time these two played at a Grand Slam was at Wimbledon in 2014, and there was only one break of serve. Venus will have to not think about the head-to-head record, since Kvitova leads it 5-1.

Stephens and her quarterfinal opponent, Anastasija Sevastova, have never met. There might be a few throwaway games in the beginning as they feel each other’s games out, but this is a winnable match for Stephens. Sevastova’s has a solid backhand and can also mix in the drop shot to throw her opponents off rhythm. Sevastova will need to play like she did against Maria Sharapova because Stephens has come alive this summer. The American was ranked around 900th this summer, but reached two premier-level semifinals in Toronto and Cincinnati to bring herself back into the top 100. A three-set win over 11th seed Dominika Cibulkova in the second round has raised her confidence even more.

Keys, who just won a three-set thriller over 4th seed Elina Svitolina Monday night, will take on Kaia Kanepi, another player with a comeback story fairy tale. Kanepi, a former top 15 player, has turned back time at the US Open, making her sixth Grand Slam quarterfinal. This is the only match where the American is the outright favorite, so Keys has to keep focus. The way Keys played Monday was too up and down, and Kanepi has the experience and talent to take advantage of a lapse in play. The one thing that could go in Keys’ favor is Kanepi’s fitness. The former top 15 player has only played since June and had to go through three matches just to get into the main draw. If Keys can keep Kanepi moving, she’s got it.

The future looks bright for American tennis. The last all-American women’s final was also in 2002 when Serena defeated Venus. What might be more amazing than the chance to break that drought is the fact that one of those finalists, Venus, could be back, hopefully on the winner’s end this time. Whatever the outcome of this US Open, Americans have to be, and will be proud of their players.

Conrad Ellis

Conrad Ellis

Stevenson University graduate, class of 2016
Played tennis for 14 years and counting, favorite shot is forehand
Conrad Ellis