(September 6, 2023) FLUSHING, NY – Both No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka and No. 17 Madison Keys dismissed opponents easily on Wednesday to advance to the semifinals of the US Open.
Sabalenka, who will move up to No. 1 in the world after the tournaments ends beat Zheng Qinwen of China in 73 minutes 6-0, 6-4. This is her third straight year reaching the final four at the US Open. The last woman to reach all four major semifinals in a single year was Serena Williams in 2016.
“I think I definitely played great tennis today,” Sabalenka said in her on-court interview. “Super happy with the performance. I have myself another opportunity to do better in the semis.”
“I’m super happy with the level I played today,” she said to media in her news conference. “Super happy with this win. I saw her previous matches. She played unbelievable tennis, and I’m super happy that I was able to bring my level on court and finish this match in two sets.”
With her next opponent, American Keys, the Belarusian knows most fans will be cheering for her opponent:
“I understand. Of course, they will support her more than me. I had this experience playing on the stadiums where people were supporting my opponents. So it’s not gonna bother me anyhow. I mean, I’ll just try to stay focused and try to play my best tennis.
“I know that I have my team in the box. I have my friends in the stadium who is cheering for me. I have my family, and it’s enough for me. “But, I mean, if they’re gonna cheer for me more than for her, I’ll be really appreciating. Thank you.”
Keys’ match was delayed by an ill fan in the stands. Keys defeated Wimbledon champion No. 9Marketa Vondrousova in 86 minutes 6-1, 6-4.
Keys said that she’s been focusing on her serve and keeping the points short.
“I knew that she would probably raise her level, so just really focusing on trying to keep doing what was working and not get rattled if there is longer points or she comes up with some really good shots. Just, you know, try to keep going, keep the momentum going, and not panic.”
“I have been really focusing on the serve,” Keys said. “It’s funny, Bjorn [Fratangelo, Keys’ coach and0 fiance] has been wanting me to go after it more so he said if I hit a 121 I get anything I want. I hit a 119 tonight so I was so close.
“No, honestly, it’s just I feel like I’ve just been trying to pick my spots and be really smart with it. I think these courts, for the most part, are kind of taking the ball pretty well. So, there is really no immediate need to overdo things.”
“She played a great match,” Vondrousova said. “You know, it was very tough.”
“I think I actually played, you know, good second set. She didn’t give me much chances in the first one.”
On facing Sabalenka next, the 2017 US Open finalist Keys said:
“I think she’s obviously a phenomenal tennis player. There is a reason she’s going to be No. 1 on Monday. She has a ton of power. She serves really well. To be quite honest, the year that she was able to have with the serving troubles that she had, I think it just shows she’s an incredible competitor and fighter. I mean, she’s really, really good (smiling).
“I think tomorrow it’s definitely going to be a lot of who can get in charge of the point as early as possible, because I feel like both of our games, if you get behind in the point it’s a lot harder to get back to neutral and then get back on the aggressive side.”