US Open women's semis an all-American affair
THE United States is guaranteed to be celebrating a title on its home court following Sunday's women's final.
The country cannot miss, with two all-American semi-finals to be staged this morning (from 9am) in New York.
It's the first time since 1981 that US players have filled the final four slots, with seven-time grand slam champion Venus Williams taking on Sloane Stephens and CoCo Vandeweghe meeting Madison Keys at Flushing Meadows.
Chris Evert, Barbara Potter, Martina Navratilova and eventual champion Tracy Austin was the foursome 36 years ago.
The last time there was an all-American women's final on Arthur Ashe Stadium was in 2002 when Williams lost her to sister Serena.
"It's pretty awesome," Keys said after her 6-3 6-3 win over Estonian qualifier Kaia Kanepi. "I thought it would be a really special moment. I'm happy I helped out and got my name in there."
The Pat Cash-coached Vandeweghe beat Karolina Pliskova 7-6 (7-4) 6-3.
"I watched the match last night with Venus and think she said it best," Vandeweghe said.
"We have to admire Serena and Venus, Lindsay (Davenport), Jennifer (Capriati). They all motivated me to be the next great American coming up and let's make it four for four."
Of even greater significance is the fact Williams will now meet fellow African-American star Stephens on the court named after the first black man to win a grand slam tournament, in 1968.
"He's a total legend," Williams said.
"He played during a time where he couldn't just focus on the tennis. I'm very blessed to be able to focus on my game. But he had to fight because of the colour of his skin.
"It was a completely different time. So I can't even imagine the pressure he was under. To come out of it with grace, as a champion, it's incredible."
Stephens beat Williams in the first round of the 2015 French Open in their only previous match.
"She's a great player, a great person. She's a great leader," Stephens said. "I'm happy she's still playing. She means a lot to the game," said Stephens, who has never made a major final.
"If someone would have told me when I started at Wimbledon that I'd be in the semi-finals, I would have said they're crazy."