Four Americans competing in the US Open semis

Keys became the fourth American woman to advance into the quarter-final draw

When Serena and Venus Williams were doing battle in the last all-American Grand Slam final at the Australian Open in January, Keys and Stephens were both recuperating at home. Keys is 22, Stephens is 24, and they have been close friends for years.

Stephens expects what has gone before to count for little, saying: "It's a Grand Slam final, so it's obviously a neutraliser".

Lindsay Davenport, Keys' coach, was the last American woman outside the Williams sisters to win the title in New York City when she defeated Switzerland's Martina Hingis in 1998. Clijsters and Flavia Pennetta, the 2015 champion, were the others.

And that showed in the final stages as she held her nerve superbly against a player who first made the US Open final 20 years ago.

Results have been good and getting better.

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"I knew that at some point I'd have an opportunity", Stephens said.

'When I started my comeback, if somebody told me I was going to make two semis and a grand slam final, I would probably have passed out, which is what I feel like right now. If I had known how well I would do, I could have passed out.

"I was anxious about my protected ranking, and I was anxious about using my protected ranking to get in here". Keys didn't manage a single break in her three attempts though, while Stephens converted on five of 12.

"Sloane is truly one of my favorite people and to get to play her was really special".

"When I was a child she took me to a tennis coach who said that I would be lucky to be a division two player. In the end she won more points than I did and that's what it added up to", Williams said.

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Sloane Stephens defeated Anastasija Sevatova 6-3, 3-6, 7 (7)-6 (4) in nearly the same way that Williams won. Keys looked nervous throughout and never got into any sort of rhythm.

"I'm honestly just honoured to be able to play at the same time as her, one of the greatest ever to play our game", Stephens, who joined spectators in clapping for Williams when she walked off the court, said.

By contrast, Stephens will be making her second major semifinal appearance, and first since the 2013 Australian Open. They also spoke afterward when Sloane was presented with her $3.7 million winnings.

"I was on a walking boot a month before I played Wimbledon".

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