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Madison Keys topples Marketa Vondrousova to reach first US Open semifinal since 2018
The 2017 finalist will face Aryna Sabalenka for a spot in the championship match, after recording a 6-1, 6-4 upset over the reigning Wimbledon champ.
Published Sep 07, 2023
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Madison Keys is back into the US Open semifinals, after toppling the reigning Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova 6-1, 6-4 under the lights on Arthur Ashe Stadium on Wednesday.
The 28-year-old American, who took out world No. 3 Jessica Pegula in the fourth round, will now face the reigning Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka—the incoming WTA world No. 1—for a spot in the final on Thursday.
"I think she's obviously a phenomenal tennis player. There is a reason she's going to be No. 1 on Monday," Keys said. "She has a ton of power. She serves really well.
"I think tomorrow it's definitely going to be a lot of who can get in charge of the point as early as possible, because I feel like both of our games, if you get behind in the point it's a lot harder to get back to neutral and then get back on the aggressive side."
Amid another scorching day in Flushing Meadows, the match was interrupted at 0-0, 40-40 by a fan in medical distress. Keys took towels and water bottles from her chair and brought them over as medical personnel rushed in to help.
The eight-minute stoppage was enough time for coach (and fiance) Bjorn Fratangelo to warn Keys about Vondrousova’s short, chipped return—a shot that frequently troubles big servers by forcing them up to the net where they feel less comfortable, allowing the Czech to close out the point with a pass or volley winner.
That was just enough scouting for Keys, who wouldn’t hear any more of his advice as the rowdy crowd on Ashe picked up the volume again upon resumption: “We did notice he told you to hit to her forehand, and you went to the backhand,” Rennae Stubbs pointed out in her on-court interview.
“Yeah, to be honest I couldn’t hear sh*t out there tonight!” Keys confirmed with a laugh, after striking 19 winners including four aces en route to victory in an hour and 21 minutes.
Keys is bidding to become the first American woman to make the final here since Serena Williams did so in 2019. She is one of two U.S. women in the semifinals, with Coco Gauff also advancing to face No. 10 seed Karolina Muchova on Tuesday.
"These are the moments you want to be in," Keys said in her post-match press conference. "These are the moments that you're practicing for and you're playing for and you're constantly trying to get back to.
"So it's a little bit of pressure, but it's also a little bit of a freeing moment of, I'm just going to go out and try to do the best that I can."
Armed with a good luck note from good friend Sloane Stephens, the No. 17 seed raced out to a 5-0 lead in the opening set—saving all three break points she faced—and kept the points short to keep Vondrousova on the back foot. By the time Vondrousova was able to get on the scoreboard the first set was practically over, but she carried the momentum to give Keys a closer battle in the second.
The Czech has been sporting heavy strapping on her dominant left arm throughout the fortnight, but even without it she seemed to struggle to find power on her serve against her opponent. Keys broke the Vondrousova serve three times—twice in the opening set, and once in the second, before serving for the match—and fought off all nine break points she faced.
"I don't think it was nerves. I mean, I played some good points. It wasn't enough," Vondrousova said of those nine break chances. "She was serving extremely well, I think. She put many first serves on the breakpoints, so I think from her side it was so good on the serve, just trying to find a way. Yeah, just all credits to her today."