Madison Keys (-225) vs Sloane Stephens (+175)
It’s an all-American final on the women’s side of the 2017 US Open, but perhaps not between the names you were expecting. Youngsters Madison Keys (22) and Sloane Stephens (24), both first-time Grand Slam finalists, defeated two other Americans in the semifinals (Venus Williams and Coco Vandeweghe) and will meet on Saturday (Sep. 9th) to contest the last major of the season.
Sloane Stephens edged past the 37-year-old Venus Williams in a three-set marathon (6-1, 0-6, 7-5) to advance to the final. Stephens was just two points away from defeat in the third set when she went on to claim nine of the final 11 points, defeating the seven-time Grand Slam winner. It was a meteoric comeback for Stephens in more ways than one. The Florida native was forced to bow out for a year due to a foot injury and returned to the WTA last month ranked 957th. After a first-round elimination at Wimbledon, it seemed like Stephens was facing a steep uphill climb on her road back to the top. But, win or lose come Saturday, her performance at the US Open has propelled her back to the upper echelon of women’s tennis.
Madison Keys had a much easier time advancing to the finals. She made easy work of fellow CoCo Vandeweghe in the semifinals (6-1, 6-2) after and fourth-ranked Elina Svitolina pushed her to three sets in the quarterfinals (7-6, 1-6, 6-4). She’s been billed as the next big thing in American tennis for some time, but she’s spent her career in the shadows of the Williams sisters. As the first American woman to break the top-ten since Serena Williams, Keys has some very big shoes to fill.
Serena Williams recently gave birth to her first child and is expected to return to the WTA in time for the Australian Open. For now, Serena (35) and Venus (37) are still the biggest names in American tennis. But as this year’s US Open has shown, there are a lot of young American players to take their place when they inevitably retire.
Stephens is a tough player to predict. She had an amazing season in 2013, reaching the semifinals of the Australian Open and quarterfinals of Wimbledon, but she’s been dipping in and out of form since. Keys, on the other hand, has been steady throughout her short career. Keys opens as a sizable favorite, but in reality, Stephens is being underestimated here. While she is coming back from a year-long injury, she has shaken off all the rust. She earned a huge win over Venus in the semis, demonstrating exceptional mental fortitude, and if she can replicate that performance on Saturday, she’s got a great shot at winning her first ever Grand Slam. Sitting at +175 on Bet365, she’s the best value play for bettors.
Pick: Sloane Stephens (+175)