Madison Keys defeats Kaia Kanepi to set up all-American semifinal

Of the four women in the U.S. Open semifinals, only Venus Williams was alive the last time four Americans occupied all the semifinal spots at the Open, albeit just 1 year old. That was in 1981, when Tracy Austin, Chris Evert, Barbara Potter and Martina Navratilova — who had just become a U.S. citizen — were all in the final four.

Thirty-six years later, Flushing Meadows will finally see an All-American women’s semifinals again, clinched when No. 15 seed Madison Keys defeated Kaia Kanepi in straight sets, 6-3, 6-3, Wednesday night in the final women’s quarterfinal.

Keys will face No. 20 CoCo Vandeweghe, who earlier Wednesday dispatched top seed Karolina Pliskova in straight sets. That match will follow No. 9 Venus Williams vs. unseeded Sloane Stephens. It is the first All-American semifinal at a grand slam since 1985.

“Oh, my God, it feels so good,” Keys said of an improved state of American tennis. “We have so many Americans to talk about in the last days of the US Open. I can’t tell you how many times I have sat in this chair and had to hear, you know, how horrible tennis is in America.”

It is a remarkable achievement for the American women, especially considering Serena Williams isn’t among the group, currently away from the sport having given birth.

Madison Keys will be one of the four woman in an all-American semifinals field.

Madison Keys will be one of the four woman in an all-American semifinals field.

(Geoff Burke/USA Today Sports)

This is the best-ever U.S. Open for Keys, who had been in her first Open quarterfinal. She’s now in her second career grand-slam semifinal, the other coming at the 2015 Australian Open.

Keys let her coach Lindsay Davenport know earlier Wednesday she was nervous.

“I texted Lindsay to have a speech ready for when I got here,” Keys said. “But then once I warmed up and everything, I felt better. Sitting in the city was starting to make me crazy.”

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