By Ros Satar
- Madison Keys  v Sloane Stephens
- Both are making comebacks from injury
- Second time at the US Open for two first-time Slam finalists
- Four different players will lift a Slam title this year.
NEW YORK, USA – A new champion will be crowned at the US Open, when team-mates and friends Madison Keys and Sloane Stephens battle for a maiden Slam title.
Madison Keys  v Sloane Stephens – H2H: Stephens leads 1-0
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After a tumultuous two weeks which saw top seeds scatter left and right from the start, we have two American women clashing for their home slam. Yet at the start of the year, with both players out with surgery, if you had told them that by the end of the year they would be contesting for a US Open title, would they have believed you?
Both had decent slam runs early in their careers, which gave rise to the general hyperbole that they were the future of American women’s tennis, and it took a while for either to come close to realising that potential.
Injury struck Sloane Stephens last year, causing her to miss last year’s US Open, having only started to hit balls after freeing herself from her walking boot in May. Her last run of back to back wins took her to the third round of Wimbledon, with three first round exits in Washington, Montreal and the Olympics before taking the time off for the foot injury.
Her come-back, as to be expected, was not easy, with an opening loss at Wimbledon and Washington, before she suddenly shot off with runs to the Toronto and Cincinnati semi-finals, and a leap from a ranking of 957 in Washington to 84 at the start of the tournament. Just by reaching the final, Stephens is projected to return to No. 22, with No. 17 beckoning if she lifts the title.
Madison Keys also has struggled with injury, missing the start of the season following wrist surgery, and while Stephens has won 14 out of her last 16 matches, Keys is on a decent US hard-court tear too, winning 12 out of 13 matches including the Stanford title – her first non-grass title.
Stephens was in her first Slam semi-final back in 2013, when she beat Serena Williams in Melbourne to reach the last four. She has been through a lot since then and there seems to have been a lot more maturity around her, despite her hilarious battle with a fly in one of her press conferences.
Now that she trusts her movement, such a key part to her game, she will look to make this a very athletic encounter. She does play attacking tennis, but her speed around the court could give Keys a few issues.
Keys has also had to developing her confidence again after wrist surgery at the start of the year, but again now pain free and with confidence, she has learned not to be so down on herself in matches and learned to figure things out – handy when Stephens is likely to push her well out of her comfort zone.
Perhaps coming in to this final Keys is a little match sharper, while Stephens is on a great roll but will fatigue start to play a part?
Prediction: Keys in three sets.
POLL – Who is your pick to win the US OPen 2017 Women’s Singles title?
The US Open women’s singles final takes place on Saturday at 4pm (9pm BST).
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