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Comeback queens Keys and Stephens reach US Open final
A new name will be inscribed on the women's trophy on Saturday night after Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys advanced to the final of the US Open.
Stephens edged past the ninth seed Venus Wiliimas 6-1 0-6 7-5 to reach her first Grand Slam final. Keys' route to her first title match at a major was less gruelling. She thrashed her fellow American CoCo Vandeweghe 6-1 6-2 in 66 minutes.
"It doesn't feel real," Keys said. "I played pretty well. I knew I had to rise to the occasion. I'm just happy to be in the final."
Stephens, who missed 11 months with an injury to her left foot before returning in July, said: "I'm super happy to be in a Grand Slam final. To do it here in my home slam is obviously more special. I think this is what every player dreams about."
Keys, 22, and seeded 15th, has endured her own woes over fitness in 2017. After four consecutive fourth round losses and a poor showing at the French Open in May, she underwent surgery on her left wrist for the second time in 10 months.
She returned to win the Stanford tournament in July in California and followed that up with a run to the last 16 at the Cincinnati Open in August.
Stephens, 24, reached the semi-finals at that event and will battle her Fed Cup teammate for one of hte sport's most prestigious prizes.
"I've known her for a long time. She's one of my closest friends on tour," Stephens said. "I love her to death. And it's not easy playing a friend."
Stephens beat Keys in the second round at Miami in 2015 in their only career meeting. Both have recounted how they acquired new perspective during their fights with their injuries.
"Sloane is a new person right now," Keys said. "She's so excited to be out on the court again. I'm excited we get to play each other in the US Open final."