US Open, 🇺🇸🍎🗽🚕 Semi-Final Preview + Prediction:
SF #1: (9) 🇺🇸 Venus Williams vs 🇺🇸 Sloane Stephens
Venus Williams and Sloane Stephens will go head-to-head for a spot in U.S Open final when they do battle on Friday at Flushing Meadows. This will be a battle of the generations, the evergreen, 37-year-old Venus Williams up against the rising, 24-year-old Sloane Stephens. Venus and Sloane both confirmed their spot in the semi-finals with epic victories on Tuesday, both emerged victories in dramatic final set tiebreaks. Venus will be aiming to reach her third Grand Slam final of 2017 and hopefully go on to win her first major since 2008. Conversely, Sloane Stephens will be aiming to reach her first Grand Slam final and potentially a first major title. This looms as a fairly even match-up, another classic match could be on the cards on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Venus Williams is having the most incredible season. 2017 is the first year that Venus has made three Grand Slam semi-finals since 2002. Venus has come through multiple tough matches on route to this stage. In the first week, Venus survived a surprising three set scare against Viktoria Kuzmova before safely moving past Oceane Dodin and Maria Sakkari in straight sets. Venus has stepped up her level in the second week to come past two difficult opponent in three sets. In the fourth round, Venus produced an awesome final set to beat Carla Suarez Navarro 6-3 3-6 6-1.
Venus secured her spot in a third Grand Slam semi-final of the year with an epic 6-3 3-6 7-6 win over Petra Kvitova. Venus remained amazingly composed throughout the final two sets as she weathered the storm that was peak Petra Kvitova. It seemed like Petra would run away with the match midway through the third set when she went up a break and continually fought off break points. However, Venus eventually leveled the match and was the far more composed player in the final set tiebreak.
Sloane Stephens has had a very challenging run to the semi-finals in New York, her second career Grand Slam semi-final, her first since her breakthrough run to the final four at the Australian Open in 2013. Sloane got through the first week in New York with a straight set win over Roberta Vinci, a huge three set win over Dominika Cibulkova and a straight set win over Ashleigh Barty. Like Venus, Stephens has also fought through two tough three set matches in a row to reach the semi-final stage.
Sloane hasn’t necessarily been at her best in her last couple of matches but has found a way to fight through tough situations. In the fourth round, Sloane won a topsy-turvy three set match against Julia Goerges before securing her spot in a maiden U.S Open semi-final with a 6-3 3-6 7-6 win over Anastasija Sevastova. Stephens was under huge pressure in the final set against Sevastova, when she trailed by a break and had break points against to go down a double break. Sloane regrouped and played smart tennis towards the end of the match as her superior firepower was ultimately too much for Sevastova to handle.
Sloane Stephens won the only previous match between the pair, a 7-6 6-1 victory in the opening round at Roland Garros in 2015. Much has changed since then, these two have taken completely different pathways since then but have both risen to the top in New York over the last few weeks.
I’m going to give the slight edge to Venus Williams in this match. Venus has been at this stage so many times over her career and numerous times in 2017. Venus seems to save her best tennis for the big moments and is difficult to defeat in these types of matches. I think Sloane has the game to make this match very competitive, Sloane’s great movement will lead to many extended rallies where Sloane can have success. Ultimately, it is Venus who plays with a greater clarity and is better at working out what she needs to do under pressure. With one final chance to win a Grand Slam in 2017, I think Venus Williams will take her game to another level and edge past a gallant Sloane Stephens.
Prediction: Venus Williams to defeat Sloane Stephens in 3 sets