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By Richard Pagliaro | Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Madison Keys

Madison Keys crushed qualifier Kaia Kanepi, 6-3, 6-3, completing the first all-American US Open semifinals in 36 years.

Photo credit: @USOpen

There’s no place like home.

Exhorted by the home crowd, Madison Keys completed an all-American US Open house party.

The 15th-seeded Keys crushed qualifier Kaia Kanepi, 6-3, 6-3, rushing into her first US Open semifinal and ensuring the first all-American US Open final in 15 years.

Watch: Vandeweghe Topples Pliskova

It’s the first time since 1981 the US Open final four is an all-American affair.

Back then Tracy Austin, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova and Barbara Potter were the four American semifinalists.

Tomorrow night, 37-year-old Venus Williams will face Sloane Stephens in one semifinal,with Keys playing good friend CoCo Vandeweghe in the top half semifinal, ensuring the first all-American US Open final since 2002 when Serena Williams beat big sister Venus Williams.

In a performance of power and poise, a ruthless Keys stormed into her second career major semifinal in just her 10th tournament of the season.

Offseason surgery to her left wrist left Keys with questions about this season. She continued her summer of dynamic tennis serving 72 percent, cranked aces and denied all three break points she faced cruising into a red, white and blue semifinal.

“This means the world to me,” Keys told ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi in her post-match interview. “If someone told me this is where I would be right before Wimbledon I wouldn’t have believe you. I’m so happy to be here. We’re going to have four American women playing tomorrow and that’s pretty awesome.” The 15th-seeded Keys will face her friend CoCo Vandeweghe for a spot in Saturday’s final.

Earlier today, Vandeweghe defeated world No. 1 Karolina Pliskova, 7-6 (4), 6-3, powering into her first US Open semifinal with a spirited victory that will end the Czech’s reign as world No. 1.

The Keys vs. Vandeweghe match is a rematch of last month’s Stanford final. Keys conquered Vandeweghe, 7-6 (4), 6-4, to earn her first title of the season in Stanford then knocked her Olympic team teammate out of Cincinnati in their next tournament.

“The fact we never played each other and now it’s three weeks out of five,” Keys said. “I don’t think there will be many long points. I’m excited to play.”

A ruthless Keys has posted an 11-1 record since Wimbledon with her lone loss in that span coming when she failed to convert a match point bowing to Cincinnati champion Garbine Muguruza in the Queen City.

The 32-year-old Kanepi won three qualifying rounds en route to her second US Open quarterfinal. With kinesieolgy tape wrapping her right arm, Kanepi battled hard, but looked wounded and weary after an initial push.

Keys dodged three break points, including drilling and ace down the middle, holding in the third game. Keys quickly applied pressure in the fourth game, breaking for a 3-1 on a cluster of Kanepi errors.

The variety of spins and speed Keys unleashed on serve was unsettling for Kanepi. Keys kicked a short-angled ace out wide—her fifth ace—then blasted a 118 mph service winner down the middle extending her lead to 5-2.

Clad in all black, the 32-year-old Kanepi spent some changeovers with a white towel draped over her head as if trying to block out the distractions of the largest Grand Slam court in the world with the overwhelming majority of 23,000 fans supporting Keys.

There was no reprieve while the ball was in play.

Keys crunched a slider serve for set point then cracked a 100 mph service winner snatching the 29-minute opening set. The 15th-seeded American served 81 percent and pounded 10 more winners (12 to 2).

Keys rattled successive errors from Kanepi breaking at the 38-minute mark to start the second set and never looked back.

On her second match point, Keys closed in 68 minutes as Kanepi scattered a wild forehand.


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