DAY 11 of the 2017 US Open is women’s semi finals day, with plenty of home grown stars for the New York crowds to get behind on Thursday at Flushing Meadows.

Indeed, it’s an all-American lock out in the semi finals, with one of Venus Williams, Sloane Stephens, Coco Vandeweghe or Madison Keys taking home the title in a few days time.

It’ll almost certainly be Keys, as she was the one I highlighted in the top half of the draw along with Elina Svitolina and of course I opted for the latter, so the smart money has to be on Keys the way my outrights have gone this season.

Talking of which the men’s outright picture became even more annoying last night when Roger Federer was surprisingly beaten by Juan Martin Del Potro and I said in yesterday’s preview that I wasn’t convinced by Fed’s public comments about his back being fine.

“If I ran into a good guy I knew I was going to lose,” admitted the Swiss. “And going in I knew I'm not in a safe place. I'm out of this tournament because I wasn't good enough in my mind, my body and my game.”

Somewhat different to this after the Kohlschreiber match: “It’s all good. No problems there. I’m not worried about it.”

A classic example right there of the need to take players’ public comments with more than a pinch of salt.

Anyway, back to the women and the weather forecast suggests a sunny evening and a clear night, so the roof shouldn’t be needed when play starts at around 19:00 local time (midnight UK time).

Venus Williams v Sloane Stephens

Both of these ladies had the vociferous New York crowd to partially thank for them each turning around 1-3 deficits in the final set of their quarter final matches to reach this semi final stage.

And both emerged victorious in final set tie breaks, so it’s been a tough journey for these two Americans and we’re set for another raucous affair on Ashe for sure when they face off for only the second time in their careers.

Their first and only prior clash came on clay at the French Open of 2015 when Stephens was a straight sets winner as underdog and the prices for this one are about the same as they were then, with Stephens a 2.35 chance.

Stephens has come into form at exactly the right time, with her comeback from a year out with a foot injury proving a spectacularly good one, including semi finals in Toronto, Cincy and now here at the US Open.

She’s 13-3 in her 16 outdoor hard court matches since returning from foot surgery and in those matches she’s compiled decent service hold/break numbers of 74.6% holds and 33.7% breaks (108.3 total).

Venus holds serve almost the same amount of times at 74.3% in her 27 outdoor hard court matches in the past 12 months and breaks serve 38.5% of the time for a 112.8 total.

With two players that hold serve more than most on the WTA Tour (only Pliskova, Konta, Keys and Vandeweghe of the 22 players I considered possible winners of this title hold more often than Williams and Stephens) I like the look of over 0.5 tie breaks at a price of 3.05 here.

Neither of these ladies has had anything like an easy passage through to this stage, with Williams having played three final set matches in five so far and Stephens the same.

Over 2.5 sets at 2.33 and tie break played seem the options here, with this one having the feel of a tight battle to it.

Only two Americans have ever beaten Venus at the US Open and they (unsurprisingly) are Serena Williams (three times) and Lindsay Davenport (twice) and in all Grand Slams we can only add the names of Lisa Raymond (2004 Australian Open), Madison Keys (2015 Australian Open) and Monica Seles (2002 Australian Open) as Americans to have beaten Venus at majors.

Stephens may well add her name to that list, but I prefer the odds on either a three set match or a breaker.

Coco Vandeweghe v Madison Keys

The second semi final will be a hard-hitting affair between two players who love to go for their shots and I’d have little hesitation in siding with Keys in this one.

Keys has already beaten Vandeweghe twice this hard court swing – in the Stanford final and round one of Cincy – and the weakness of Vandeweghe was highlighted in those matches.

CoCo doesn’t break serve anywhere near enough to be winning major titles, with a break percentage of only 28%, which is very low for the women’s game, and in those two matches against Keys this summer Keys held serve 92.2% of the time.

Vandeweghe created just three break points in the Stanford final, taking none of them, and so far this US Open she’s been about par on breaking serve at just 27.2% in her five matches this fortnight.

Keys is ahead in holding serve (81%) and breaking serve (33.1%) on outdoor hard this season and of course she’ll be the more confident of the two with those recent successes over her opponent fresh in her mind.

For me Keys has more self-belief in the big moments in big matches than Vandeweghe and therefore the courage to step up and execute those heavy groundstrokes when it counts.

That said it’ll probably be a fairly tight encounter and I wouldn’t be surprised if there were tie breaks in this one as well, with a price of 2.90 pretty reasonable about over 0.5 tie breaks.

But on what’s set to be a great night for American women’s tennis I like Keys’ chances of making the final.

Sean's Best Bet

  • Keys to beat Vandeweghe
  • (1.71, Unibet)
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