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US OPEN

Madison Keys-Sloane Stephens: US Open final as it happened

The world number 83 completed an extraordinary comeback from injury to lift her maiden Grand Slam title in a 6-3, 6-0 destruction of her compatriot.
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Update:
Madison Keys-Sloane Stephens: US Open final as it happened
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Sloane Stephens put on an incredible display of consistency and tactical acumen to win the US Open in New York just weeks after returning to the WTA Tour after an injury lay-off of almost a year that saw her ranking plummet to 957.

Madison Keys remained true to her power-hitting style, which floored CoCo Vandeweghe in the semi-finals after the world number 22 had ousted Karolina Pliskova a round earlier, but racked up such an unforced error count that at times it seemed all Stephens had to do was keep the ball in play and wait for her opponent to blink first.

Whereas against Vandeweghe everything Keys hit found its mark, in the final she sprayed 30 unforced errors around Arthur Ashe in return for just 18 winners and failed to take any of her three break point opportunities. Stephens, meanwhile, made just six unforced errors and broke five times in a one-sided contest, claiming the title after just an hour of play.

As a result of her victory, Stephens will rise to world number 17 when the new rankings are released on Monday.

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DANIEL MURPHYEFE

Madison Keys 0-2 Sloane Stephens. As it happened

US Open 2017 women's final live online: match preview

Madison Keys and Sloane Stephens will meet in an all-American final at the US open in a changing of the guard for women’s tennis. Keys, 22, demolished her compatriot CoCo Vandeweghe for the loss of just three games to reach her first Grand Slam final while Stephens, 24, defeated Venus Williams in three sets to book her spot in the showpiece game.

The rise of the US’ young guard has been a steady process interrupted in the cases of Keys and Stephens by injury, the former undergoing two wrist operations over the course of the last year and the latter having only recently recovered from surgery on her foot that kept her off the WTA Tour for 11 months.

Stephens only returned to the courts at Wimbledon, by which stage her ranking had plummeted to 957 but in a stunning turnaround she reached the semi-finals in Toronto and Cincinnati before ousting Williams in the last four at Flushing Meadows.

The match represents the first time since 2002 that two Americans will contest the US Open final and the first time this century that one of those players will not bear the surname of Williams. In 1998 Keys’ current coach, Lindsay Davenport, entered the record books as the last non-Williams US player to lift the title at Flushing Meadows when she beat Martina Hingis, before Venus and Serena shared out the next four between them.

Davenport will be more than happy to see that chapter in history erased by her charge, as Keys has finally made the breakthrough her early promise and runs to the Australian Open semis and Wimbledon quarters in 2015 heralded. Stephens, though, proved against Williams that she has also found a steely edge to add her to her incredible athleticism and now, fully recovered, will shoot back up the rankings from her current place of world number 83 regardless of the result.

Madison Keys

The 22-year-old is making her first Grand Slam final appearance after a 2015 loss to Serena Williams in the Australian Open last four – after she had seen off Venus in three sets in the previous round.

Williams predicted after that game that Keys would one day be a world number one.

Keys rose to prominence as a youngster, winning her first Tour-level match at the age of 14, her first Grand Slam game at 16 and first entering the top-10 last season after a title run in Birmingham.

Sloane Stephens

Stephens has not yet cracked the top 10 on the WTA Tour, her highest ranking to date coming in October 2013 when she reached a career high of number 11.

The 24-year-old also broke into the upper echelons of the Tour early, mirroring Keys’ Australian Open and Wimbledon runs two years earlier than her opponent on Saturday. However, that remained her Grand Slam highlights reel until her current showing at Flushing Meadows as injuries began to take their toll on her consistency.

If she is successful on Arthur Ashe, Stephens will become the fourth-lowest ranked player since the 1975 introduction of the computer ranking system to win a Grand Slam and only the fifth unseeded player in the Open Era to do so and her ranking next week will be as high as 15 in victory or 22 if she loses.

Head-to-head

Close friends Keys and Stephens have met just once before, in the round of 64 in Miami in 2015, Stephens winning 6-4, 6-2.

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