THE FINAL of the women’s singles will take place between two Americans battling it out for their first Grand Slam title tonight.

Sloane Stephens faces Madison Keys not before 9pm UK time and it should be a fascinating affair.

I was a little unlucky in New York last night as my suggestions that Kevin Anderson would beat Pablo Carreno Busta -1.5 sets and that Rafa Nadal’s clash with Juan Martin del Potro would go to at least four sets were both correct.

Unfortunately, Delpo had nothing left after winning set one and got bageled in set two which cost me the over 37.5 games as the Argentine hit the wall physically.

Stephens v Keys

As I mentioned at the start of the tournament it’s rare indeed to have an unseeded winner of the women’s singles title at the US Open, with Kim Clijsters' wild card win in 2009 the only such success in the Open era and she was hardly a shock winner.

Nine of the last 10 favourites in the women’s final have won it with the only exception this past decade being Sam Stosur’s shock win over Serena Williams back in 2011 as a 4-1 chance.

Tiebreaks in US Open women’s final are rare with only two matches featuring them this century and 18 of the last 21 finals have been decided in straight sets.

This is the first all-American women’s final since Serena Williams beat Venus Williams back in 2002 and it’s hard to see past a Keys win probably in straight sets here.

Stephens has done superbly well to make a major final so soon after coming back from foot surgery and considering she’d only played a dozen matches in a year before arriving in New York it’s been quite a run this fortnight.

She always had the ability but her attitude to me never seemed to match that talent and perhaps that long injury lay-off has put things into perspective for her a little bit.

Whatever the reason she takes her place in the final and she certainly won’t fear Keys having beaten her in straight sets in their only career meeting as a 2.6 underdog in Miami in 2015.

Keys was in tears that day after a pretty awful display but I doubt that match will any bearing at all on today’s and it’s Keys who comes into this clash with a decent statistical advantage.

The No.15 seed has held serve 81.8% of the time in her 18 matches on outdoor hard this season and broken serve 33.9% of the time for a decent total of 115.7.

Stephens has played one match fewer in her hard court campaign in 2017 and her hold/break total is some way back on 107.7 (73.6% holds/34.1% breaks) and it’s hard to find a statistical category where Stephens leads Keys.

The Stephens serve is breakable and she’s faced 0.71 break points per game in her 17 hard court matches this season (Keys 0.53) and Keys saves more of the break points against her as well (65,7% to 62.8%).

The only category on serve where Stephens leads is she hits fewer double faults (0.17 per game compared to 0.26 for Keys) so backing Keys to hit more double faults at slight odds against would appear to be decent value.

On return of serve their stats are very similar indeed with only 0.2% between them on return games won, so on paper it certainly seems like Keys has a good advantage, hence her price of around 1.50 to win it.

But in a major final – the first for either lady – who’s to say how the nerves will affect these players – and it would hardly be a huge shock if Stephens were to handle the occasion the better and take it.

Both players have been beaten in Grand Slam semi-finals in the past but a final at home in the USA in front of millions watching a nervy, error-ridden showing by both isn’t out of the question.

The other issue that may be a factor is a possible injury to Keys who had a MTO in her semi-final against Coco Vandeweghe for a right thigh or hip problem and how cruel it would be if injury were to rob Keys again in the latter stages of a major.

Hopefully it will be OK for the final and if it is I expect her to be the one holding the trophy on Saturday evening.

Sean's Best Bet

  • Keys to beat Stephens 2-0
  • (13-10, Unibet)

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