By Ros Satar

  • Serena Williams [17] v Anastasija Sevastova [19]
  • Madison Keys [14] v Naomi Osaka [20]
NEW YORK, USA – A Grand Slam final beckons for two women when the semi-finals are played on Thursday’s night match – but who will be the last two standing?

 

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Serena Williams [17] v Anastasija Sevastova [19] | First Meeting

A first-time meeting will herald a path to history for either Serena Williams or Anastasija Sevastova. The Latvian is the first woman to reach the semi-finals of the US Open, as she stunned defending champion and this year’s Roland Garros finalist Sloane Stephens in the previous round.

With decent strength of both the forehand and backhand side, and a dash of slice and dice variety. Sevastova picked apart the game of Stephens and stopped her from getting any kind of rhythm on the court. She will need to do more of the same against the six-time champion Williams, who of course is chasing history herself.

It was indeed third time the charm for the Latvian who wears her heart, and doubtless many other internal organs on her sleeve. Even if she is winning she can be seen looking stricken to her coach as though somebody shot her puppy, yet she can string together points to frustrate the best.

On the other hand, if there is anyone who is an expert at playing themselves into form it has been Williams throughout her career, netting her 23 Slam titles, and leaves her a tantalising one Slam short of equalling Margaret Court’s record.

Sevastova admitted that she would need to find some solutions to the aggressive, big hitting of Williams – and she burned Stephens over and over with canny drop-shots. Serena at her best, with her doubles prowess was equally adept at the net and this will be a true test of her fitness and ability to adapt to the unpredictability that will be coming over the net at her.

The weight of experience, though, counts for a lot at this stage. Sevastova may always look as though she is about to burst into tears at any minute, and while Serena has been known to have that look of ‘why am I not in the locker room right now,’ she is the supreme big stage competitor.

This could well go the distance, as Sevastova is the one that has absolutely nothing to lose, and while the first set could go the way of her quarter-final victory over Stephens, it is unlikely that Williams will let her get away with that for two sets.

Prediction: Williams in three sets.

 

POLL: Who will win the US Open 2018 Women’s Singles Title?

 

Madison Keys [14] v Naomi Osaka [20]

Naomi Osaka in the quarter-final of the US Open, New York 2018

Naomi Osaka in the quarter-final of the US Open, New York 2018 | (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

If the previous semi-final line-up boasts experience of tour life and life in general, then two of the tour’s younger stars are starting to bring their own mark to the proceedings. From Madison Keys early self-deprecating style has given way to a more mature approach to her matches. She (and indeed Naomi Osaka) can still wear their hearts on their sleeves from time to time, but if we are starting to see the future champions of the WTA coming through, then few people will quibble with this quirky pair.

Both have a solid game with big serves and powerful ground-strokes and can mix things up with varying pace, while Keys will look to try and take control of the rallies early and she possesses good all-round skills. She has improved her mobility a lot in early years, and has come through more injury issues that you would expect a player of her age to experience.

What is significant for Keys in her record against Osaka. Although a lot has changed for both players in the last two years in terms of their capability and progression on the tour, Osaka has yet to get a win over Keys, and has only taken a set off her once.

Prediction: Osaka in three sets.

The Women’s Singles semi-finals are scheduled from 7pm (Midnight Friday, BST) om Arthur Ashe Stadium.

 

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