NEW YORK, NY, USA - Under the lights at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Wednesday night, Madison Keys’ victory put the 2017 US Open in the American tennis history books by ensuring that all four semifinalists hailed from the United States.
Keys admitted that the occasion threatened to get the best of her - she was the last player left as Venus Williams, Sloane Stephens and CoCo Vandeweghe had already booked their passage into the final four, and she was facing the daunting prospect of facing the resurgent Kaia Kanepi with the weight of increased expectations on her shoulders.
“I was really nervous,” Keys admitted in her post-match press conference. “On top of, you know, coming back after having a big win the other night, and then all of a sudden being in a match where you're supposed to win - it was a lot.
“And then being the last American. It was really bad.”
The No.15 seed even texted her coach Lindsay Davenport ahead of the match to make sure the former No.1 had a speech ready for her. But as soon as Keys stepped onto the court, she showed no signs of nerves and she powered past Kanepi in straight sets.
With the four Americans taking up the last spots at their home Slam for the first time since 1981, and a host of younger Americans on the rise, Keys said the moment brings players a sense of vindication.
“Oh, my God, it feels so good,” Keys laughed. “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 how horrible tennis is in America. So this feels really good. The fact that there is going to be two all-American semifinals, two people in the finals on Saturday…
“There are lots of young up-and comers. I think there is a lot of good American tennis to come.”
But in the midst of such a historic moment for American tennis, Keys also reflected on the personal victory of reaching a Grand Slam semifinal in a year plagued by injury.
“Having all of the things that were kind of thrown at me this whole year and having some really low moments - there was a moment where I came off the court, and I said, ‘I don't know if I'm ever going to win a tennis match again.’
“There was definitely a lot of dark moments. To have this really feels good and makes me really proud of myself.”