US Open Women’s Semifinals Preview: Americans Abound, But Can Coco Gauff Win? And What About Madison Keys?
It’s been an Open for the ages—and for the Americans, with Coco Gauff and Ben Shelton locking in their places in the semifinals on Tuesday, and 17th-seeded Madison Keys joining the club last night with her upset (and lopsided) win over ninth-seeded Marketa Vondrousova. Tonight, the women play both semifinal matches, starting at 7pm ET, with Gauff, the sixth seed, squaring off against 10th-seeded Karolina Muchova, followed by Keys vs. second-seeded (and new world number one) Aryna Sabalenka.
What to look for in the first match-up: Both players have been to a Major final before, both at the French Open—Gauff last year, and Muchova earlier this year (both lost). The two have played each other only once—a few weeks ago, in Cincinnati—with Gauff winning in straight sets. Will that happen again here? If it does, it likely won’t be quite so easy: Muchova was clearly struggling with fatigue in that match, and while the heat and humidity in New York has been brutal the last few days, it shouldn’t be a determining factor here. Both players had relatively straightforward victories in their last rounds, and both should be well-rested.
Game-wise, they’re a decent pairing: Both play a diverse, all-court game, with Gauff likely the more aggressive, and the one more prone to rush the net and unleash her killer backhand. Muchova, meanwhile, probably has a greater variety to her shots, and often relies on deploying a defensive slice to defuse her opponent’s power. Add all of this up, and we’re probably even so far.
The difference in the match may very well come down to two things: Conditioning-slash-athleticism, and mental strength-slash-poise. Let’s give Gauff the edge in the former—“the biggest thing that I take pride in is being fit,” she told us just before the tournament, and there’s generally no one out-hustling her on the court. As for the latter: We’d call it a draw. Muchova has a steely resolve on the court in both good times and bad—though there will surely be a rabidly partisan home crowd raising the proverbial roof for Gauff.
TLDR: Could go three sets, but look for Gauff in the women’s final on Saturday.
As for Madison Keys taking on Aryna Sabalenka: This one might be more of a challenge for the American. Keys had a great run a handful of years ago, making it to the finals here at the Open in 2017, but while injuries took a toll and kept her off the tour at times, she’s been back on a roll lately, returning to the top 10 this year for the first time since 2019 and notching wins over opponents like Gauff. All of which would seem to bode well for her—until one considers Keys’s opponent.