It’s a strange notion to suggest with Serena Williams on the sideline, but the state of American women’s tennis has rarely looked better. What else can you say when all four semifinalists at the US Open come from the USA?
It’s not like these are flukes either – Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys have been tipped for greatness for years now, CoCo Vandeweghe has always had the shots and now has the mentality, while Venus Williams is nothing less than one of the greatest tennis players of all time. Together they make a mean foursome, as worthy of any major semifinal as the most international quartet you could find, and provide as much cause for excitement in the future as they do in the present.
Yet for as good as Thursday is for their country, it will mean little for these women when they step out on court. They may know each other, or even play together on occasion, but in vying for an outcome that cannot be shared, there is no other option but for friend to become foe.
So, what can we make of the all-American showdown on day 11 at the open? Read on to find out.
All Matches on Arthur Ashe Stadium – 7:00pm start
Sloane Stephens (USA) vs Venus Williams (USA) 
They may be born 13 years apart, but both Venus Williams and Sloane Stephens know what it’s like to see their careers go down the gurgler, and yet against all odds, they find themselves facing off for a spot in a major final. The two have only played once before – a first-round upset by Stephens at the 2015 French Open – and with so much having changed in the interim, it’s hard to choose a favourite. The more naturally aggressive of the two, expect Venus to dictate from the baseline, with Stephens trying just to stay in points until she finds an opportunity to exercise her supreme timing and take the ball on the rise, pulling Venus out of court and forcing an error. However, compared to Roland Garros, Venus’ serve will be much more of a weapon and that could prove the difference in what is sure to be a hotly contested affair.
CoCo Vandeweghe (USA)  vs Madison Keys (USA) 
Unlike Venus and Stephens, neither Vandeweghe nor Keys has really had a signature win in their quest to be America’s next tennis superstar, so in a way it’s only fitting they get the chance for one against each other. Close friends and Fed Cup teammates, Vandeweghe and Keys know everything there is to know about each other’s games, but surprisingly hadn’t met before two meetings this summer in Stanford and Cincinnati – both going Keys’ way, both by razor-thin margins. Possessing similarly hard, flat groundstrokes, both are liable to rack up the winners, but if there’s one advantage for either player, it’s that Keys does a better job redirecting her opponent’s pace and can catch Vandeweghe occasionally out-of-position. Still, it’s hard to see this being decided by anything more than a game or two, the winner being whoever can sustain their big game in the biggest moments.