While American men have been struggling to conquer the red clay, American women have had no such problem. In fact, if not for an injury incurred from playing back-to-back matches under adverse conditions, Serena Williams could have had the 2016 French Open title to add to her other three French Open titles. While we are still struggling to find another Jim Courier, we apparently may not have to look too far to find the successor(s) for Williams.
Sloane Stephens has proven that she can compete at the highest level and while she is struggling to be consistent week after week, one can no longer doubt her desire. Pushed to the brink by Camila Giorgi, Stephens rebounded to dispatch of her next opponent with the loss of only two games. Her fiercest challenge was expected to come from her today’s opponent, Daria Kasatkina; however, she was unable to mount any resistance. Stephens’ average second serve speed was faster that Kasatkina’s average first serve speed and that perhaps was the number one reason the Russian was so summarily defeated. Stephens won 6-3, 6-1.
Madison Keys is no slouch herself, while she has struggled with her wrist and other niggling injuries; she is a force to be reckoned with when she is healthy. Like Stephens, she too has struggled to be at her best consistently week after week; however, this achievement at Roland Garros may be just what she needed to remind herself that she has what it takes. She had to overcome an opponent that had defeated her in their one previous encounter. Yulia Putintseva served for the first set; yet, like so many players before her, nerves defeated her and she never recovered. Given a reprieve, Keys took full advantage and tightened up every aspect of her game to gain the straight-sets victory 7-6(5), 6-4.
Unfortunately, both Americans will face each other in the semifinals for a chance to get to their first French Open final. Stephens won their last major encounter, can she do it again, or is it Keys’ turn?
SOURCE OF IMAGES: Zimbio.com (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images Europe: Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys).