The women's semifinals at the U.S. Open will be an all-American affair for the first time since 1981. And for the first time ever, these semifinals will see three women of color compete for entry to the finals.
No. 9 Venus Williams and Sloane Stephens punched their tickets to the final four on Tuesday, while No. 20 CoCo Vandeweghe and No. 15 Madison Keys joined them Wednesday with wins over No. 1 Karolina Pliskova and Estonia's Kaia Kanepi, respectively.
Semifinal action will get underway Thursday evening at 7 p.m. ET when Williams and Stephens square off in the first match at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing, New York. They will be followed immediately by Vandeweghe and Keys as four of the United States' most compelling talents vie for spots in Saturday's championship.
Here's a rundown of when and where you can catch all of the semifinal action.
Date: Thursday, Sept. 7
Coverage: Begins at 7 p.m. ET
Live Steam: WatchESPN
Put mildly, Stephens' comeback from foot surgery has been unexpected.
After suffering first-round exits at Wimbledon and the Citi Open in Washington, D.C., Stephens appeared destined for a lackluster start—and finish—to her 2017 season.
But then a switch flipped.
Appearing at the Rogers Cup in Toronto, Stephens made a compelling run to the semifinals. The script was the same at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.
Now in her third straight semis, Stephens' world ranking has jumped roughly 900 spots from where it was at the start of August, according to the New York Times' Ben Rothenberg:
Ben Rothenberg @BenRothenberg
Sloane Stephens' meteoric rise, update: Pre-Toronto: #934 Post-Toronto SF: #151 Post-Cincy SF: #84 In #USOpen SF: ~#34 NINE HUNDRED SPOTS.2017-9-5 21:26:11
"Obviously before or when I started playing again at Wimbledon and D.C., I didn't expect much," Stephens said this week, per Sports Illustrated's Jamie Lisanti. "I was just playing and having fun, having a good time. I'm still playing and having a good time. That's really all there is to it."
In addition to her sterling play of late, Stephens has a bit of history on her side.
Although the sample size isn't large, Stephens defeated Williams in their lone meeting to date. That showdown came in 2015 when the two met on clay at the French Open.
With that result in mind, Williams won't take Stephens lightly.
And with seven Grand Slam titles—including two at the U.S. Open—under her belt, Venus knows what it will take to dispatch the 24-year-old as she seeks a return to the summit.
The evening's second semifinal will pit Vandeweghe against Keys in a clash of rising stars searching for a breakthrough.
It will also represent an opportunity for Vandeweghe to exact some revenge against Keys—who has won both of their tilts this year.
The first came in early August when Keys snatched a straight-set win from the 25-year-old in the Bank of the West Classic final.
Vandeweghe stretched things to three sets days later in the first round at the Western & Southern Open, but Keys once again proved victorious.
However, Vandeweghe has been rolling ever since thanks to wins over high-seeded foes like Pliskova and No. 10 Agnieszka Radwanska that have paved the way to a semifinal berth.
Keys will likely have a slight edge based on her recent success, but Vandeweghe sounds like she's as focused as ever with hardware on the line.
"I think most every junior player that plays tennis dreams of holding the big Grand Slam trophies at the end of a tournament," she said Wednesday, per the New York Post's Greg Joyce. "I think the dream still holds as far as, you know, I'm still searching for that trophy at the end of the week."