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Madison Keys returns to U.S. | Best Open semifinals to face Aryna Sabalenka 2023

Madison Keys

 

American Madison Keys is once again two match wins from her first major title, advancing to the U.S. Open semifinals.

The 17th seed Keys took out Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic 6-1, 6-4 on Wednesday night.

Keys, a 28-year-old in her sixth Grand Slam semifinal, gets soon-to-be No. 1 Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus on Thursday.

Sabalenka, who began the week by clinching the No. 1 ranking for the first time, reached her fifth consecutive major semi with a 6-1, 6-4 win over 23rd seed Zheng Qinwen of China.

“Almost a completely different match tomorrow,” Keys said, referencing the different styles of Vondrousova and Sabalenka. “There’s a reason she’s No. 1 in the world. … It’s going to be a lot of hard hitting. Not a lot of long points. Honestly, just going to try to buckle up and get as many balls back as I can.”

Sabalenka, the Australian Open champion, is the only singles player in the tournament yet to drop a set. She also swept Keys in the Wimbledon quarterfinals.

Keys made her deepest major run at the U.S. Open in 2017, taking runner-up to countrywoman Sloane Stephens. She also made the semis of the Australian Open and the French Open.

Sabalenka is the only woman left in the draw who is ranked higher than American Coco Gauff. Gauff, the sixth seed, gets French Open runner-up Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic in Thursday’s earlier semi.

Also Wednesday, No. 3 men’s seed Daniil Medvedev dumped No. 8 Andrey Rublev, who is the godfather of Medvedev’s daughter, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 in an all-Russian quarterfinal.

In Friday’s semifinals, he’ll play top seed and defending champion Carlos Alcaraz or No. 12 Alexander Zverev of Germany.

“Sometimes I do it well and sometimes I do it really badly, but I think it’s reminding yourself — these are the matches that you grow up dreaming of. These are the moments you want to be in,” Keys said. “So that kind of pressure of — it’s the big stage, but also just the reminder of this is literally what we’ve dreamed of. These are the moments that you’re practicing for and you’re playing for and you’re constantly trying to get back to.”

The other women’s semifinal will be No. 6 Coco Gauff against No. 10 Karolina Muchova: they won their quarterfinals Tuesday. The last time two American women made the semifinals at the US Open was 2020 Serena Williams and Jennifer Brady.

Daniil Medvedev tops Andrey Rublev to make US Open semifinals:

NEW YORK — Soaked with sweat as the temperature neared 95 degrees Fahrenheit on the hottest day at this year’s US Open, 2021 champion Daniil Medvedev walked slowly to towel off between points of his victory Wednesday, looked into a courtside camera and issued what sounded like a mix between a warning and a plea.

“You cannot imagine,” he said. “One player [is] going to die, and they’re going to see.”

“The only thing that is a little bit, let’s call it dangerous, is that the question is: How far could we go” Medvedev, a 27-year-old Russian seeded No. 3, said after eliminating Andrey Rublev 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 to reach the semifinals at Flushing Meadows for the fourth time.

“I’m not sure what can we do. Because probably we cannot stop the tournament for four days — because it’s been, what, three, four days it’s been brutal like this? Because then it basically ruins everything: the TV, even the tickets, everything. It ruins everything,” said Medvedev, who said he needed an ice bath and something to eat after leaving the court. “So I don’t think this could be done.”

Ben Shelton edges Frances Tiafoe to reach US Open semifinals:

NEW YORK — Ben Shelton is 20 years old, still new to this whole professional tennis thing. He is equipped with a tremendously good serve, but don’t think he can’t come through in other ways when it matters the most.

On a muggy night in which, yes, he hit 14 aces but also hit 11 double faults, Shelton used one blink-and-you-missed-it booming return to save a set point in the pivotal tiebreaker and reached his first Grand Slam semifinal by edging Frances Tiafoe 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (7), 6-2 at the US Open in a back-and-forth contest filled with huge hitting by both.

“Sometimes, you’ve got to shut off the brain, close your eyes and just swing,” Shelton said about his forehand return winner off an 83 mph second serve that prevented Tiafoe from taking a two-sets-to-one lead. “Some may say ‘clutch,’ but I don’t know about all that.”

Both players hit the ball hard. But Shelton was the one drawing “oohs” and “aahs” from the crowd with his every-bit-of-strength lefty forehands that topped 100 mph and serves that zoomed even faster. An ace at 138 mph — he reached 149 mph twice in a fourth-round victory against another American, No. 14 TommyPaul — generated a loud reaction from spectators, as well as a “Yeah!” from the excitable Shelton himself.

It was Tiafoe, the one with a tad more experience, whose game was littered with mistakes early. A double fault here, a flubbed over-the-shoulder volley that bounced way in front of the net there.

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