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Pegula, Keys to clash in US Open as home fans dream


World No.3 Jessica Pegula will face countrywoman Madison Keys in the US Open fourth round as the American buzz continues to build at the year's final grand slam.

Pegula fought past Ukraine's Elina Svitolina 6-4 4-6 6-2 on Saturday while Keys rallied to upset 14th seed Liudmila Samsonova 5-7 6-2 6-2.

With four American women reaching the last 16 and the same number of US men progressing to the second week, home fans can dream of a Flushing Meadows trophy sweep no matter how far fetched that idea might seem.

Not since 2002 when Pete Sampras and Serena Williams were crowned US Open champions have Americans hoisted both trophies but, with Pegula, Coco Gauff, Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe all top 10 seeds and in the last 16, the chance will be there.

The last time Flushing Meadows had a chance to celebrate a homegrown women's champion was in 2017 when Sloane Stephens beat Keys in an all-American final.

Seeded third and carrying momentum from a solid run in to Flushing Meadows that included a win at the Canadian Open, Pegula is rated the top US hope and has performed as expected, only dropping one set in the first week.

She received her first real test in the form of gritty veteran Svitolina, a US Open semi-finalist in 2019, and was wary of the match up with 17th-seeded Keys.

"Every time I practice with (Keys), she just has the ability to just hit aces and rip forehands and backhands, play a really big power game," Pegula said.

"It will be interesting to see how smart I can play and what I can do to combat that."

If she win's Monday's clash, Pegula will have reached the quarter-finals of three of the four majors for the second consecutive year. 

Sixth seed Gauff was the first to book her spot with a win over Belgian Elise Mertens on Friday, while Peyton Stearns joined the trio when she brushed aside Britain's Katie Boulter 6-4 6-3 on Saturday night.

Belarusian second seed Aryna Sabalenka pummelled France's Clara Burel 6-1 6-1 in their third-round match.

Sabalenka, the Australian Open champion, will next play 13th seed Daria Kasatkina, who beat Belgian qualifier Greet Minnen 6-3 6-4.

An ailing Ons Jabeur scraped by Czech Marie Bouzkova 5-7 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 to keep her campaign on trackdespite an error-riddled performance.

The Tunisian fifth seed said this week she was feeling like a "zombie" due to illness but came back from the dead to overcome a cool-headed Bouzkova, firing off 56 winners under the lights on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

She now faces China's Zheng Qinwen, who beat Italian Lucia Bronzetti 6-3 4-6 6-4.

with The AP