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There'll be a new Grand Slam champion this weekend as Sloane Stephens beats Venus

Stephens, ranked 83rd in the world, will face friend Madison Keys in an all-American final.

Stephens: "This is what every player dreams about."
Image: Dubreuil Corinne/ABACA

SLOANE STEPHENS AND Madison Keys were both struggling with serious injuries just three months ago.

On Thursday, the two Americans advanced to their first Grand Slam final at the US Open.

Stephens, who missed 11 months with a left foot injury before returning in July, outlasted seven-time Slam champion Venus Williams 6-1, 0-6, 7-5.

“I’m super happy to be in a Grand Slam final,” Stephens said. “To do it here, my home slam, is obviously more special. I think this is what every player dreams about.”

Keys, who had left wrist surgery for the second time in 10 months after a first-round French Open exit, routed CoCo Vandeweghe 6-1, 6-2 in 66 minutes to complete the first all-American US Open final since Serena Williams beat sister Venus in 2002.

“It still doesn’t feel real. I’m still shaking,” Keys said. “I played pretty well. There’s a lot of things in my head right now so I’m struggling to come up with words.

“I knew I had to rise to the occasion. I’m just happy to be in the final.”

The friends and Fed Cup teammates will meet on Saturday at Arthur Ashe Stadium in the biggest match of either’s career for a top prize of €3m.

“I’ve known her for a long time. She’s one of my closest friends on tour,” Stephens said. “I love her to death. And it’s not easy playing a friend.”

US Open - Women Semi-Finals Williams, left, made 51 unforced errors. Source: Dubreuil Corinne/ABACA

Stephens needed a thrilling break at love in the penultimate game and closing hold of serve to deny two-time champion Williams her first US Open final in 15 years.

“I just worked my tail off and tried to run every ball down and here we are,” Stephens said. “It required a lot of fight and a lot of grit.”

At 83rd in the world, Stephens is the lowest-ranked Slam finalist since unranked Justine Henin at the 2010 Australian Open and the lowest at the US Open since unranked Kim Clijsters won the 2009 title.

US Open Tennis Keys: beat Vandeweghe in straight sets. Source: Adam Hunger

Williams could not overcome 51 unforced errors that doomed her bid to become the oldest women’s singles finalist in US Open history at age 37.

“It was definitely well competed,” Williams said. “In the end she won more points than I did and that’s what it added up to.

“Just made so many errors at the end there… I wasn’t playing well. Just wasn’t playing well.”

On Friday, the men return to Arthur Ashe Stadium with 15-time Slam champion Rafael Nadal, the world number one, seeking his fourth trip to the New York finals against Juan Martin Del Potro.

South African Kevin Anderson and Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta meet in the other semi-final.

© AFP 2017

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