Keys, Stephens head next U.S. generation

Fri Aug 28, 2015 7:37pm EDT
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(Reuters) - It has been 16 years since an American not named Williams won the U.S. Open women's singles title, and the drought shows no sign of ending any time soon.

Lindsay Davenport was the 1998 champion at Flushing Meadows and since then Serena Williams, the heavy favorite going into the Aug. 31-Sept. 13 U.S. Open, has claimed six titles and sister Venus Williams two.

But Serena's recent dominance does disguise the fact that Americans are few and far between at the top of the women's world rankings, which are dominated by Europeans.

Madison Keys (19), Venus Williams (23) and Sloane Stephens (29) are the only other Americans in the top 40.

With 35-year-old Venus in the twilight of her career, the time has come for Keys and Stephens to fly the American flag, but does either have the mental and physical skills to reach the next level?

Davenport, who coaches 20-year-old Keys, has little doubt they have the physical skills.

"It's hard to watch Madison and Sloane and not think, 'Oh my gosh, these two are so talented and so good, and they are the future,'" Davenport told the New Haven Register recently.

"They have different strengths and different weaknesses ... I hope for the sake of American fans those two do figure it out and are rivals and get to the top and challenging for titles, because they both have what it takes to get there."

Keys and Sloane both have one WTA title.   Continued...

Madison Keys of the U.S.A. reacts during her match against Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, July 7, 2015.                       REUTERS/Henry Browne