American Sloane Stephens made a big leap in her career. The 24 year old American beat countrywoman and personal friend Madison Keys in the US Open final on Saturday afternoon 6-3 6-0 with a blistering performance in front of a packed house at Arthur Ashe Stadium. Stephens took the first set in just 32 minutes against Keys, the higher ranked of the pair. Keys struggled on return and Stephens broke twice with class, clean hitting from the baseline. Keys tried to play aggressively but was pushed into 17 first set errors, compared to just 2 for Stephens.
In the second set it became one way traffic for the most part, Keys was broken twice, as she went down 0-40 in consecutive service games. From 3-6 0-4 down Keys had three break points but Stephens fought back and the result was straight forward from then on as she finished her first slam title with confidence. In the second set Stephens won over half of her return points and had a plethora of break points, converting a third match point to take the title in just 1 hour 3 minutes overall, and 31 minutes in the second set.
Stephens had made a magical run in New York, coming off foot surgery that sidelined her for most of the 2017 season and saw her ranked outside the top 900 just weeks ago, Stephens picked up her form where she left it in 2016 and is 15-5 on the season overall. Her three set win over Venus Williams in the semifinals was her only victory as an underdog, prior to the final against Keys, but all the same she took advantage of the draw she was gifted and made her mark. Both Stephens and Keys seem set to be WTA top 10 players in the months to come.
Keys, despite playing a poor final, deserves credit for dominant quarterfinal and semifinal performances and also has a very bright future. These two young American women showed that the future of American tennis is bright in their home slam over the last two weeks.