But she did not begrudge her friend the win and gave her a lengthy embrace at the net following her defeat.
In the second set, Stephens broke with a forehand crosscourt victor past on outstretched Keys to grab a 2-0 edge, then broke again on a double fault for a 4-0 lead, Keys swatting the ball with her left hand as it bounced back at her.
Buoyed by taking the opening set, Stephens came out in blistering form in the second, breaking at the earliest possible opportunity and rattling through to a 5-0 lead.
Sloane Stephens watched January's Australian Open from her couch, a large cast on her left foot rendering her immobile and raising questions in her mind about her ability to bounce back from the injury.
"I have no words to describe what I'm feeling, what it took to get there", said the American after her victory. "My journey's been incredible and I wouldn't change it for the world".
After waiting in line for hours, man offers last generator to stranger
Her father-in-law would not be able to survive that long without his oxygen supply . "She need the generator ", he told WFTV . With Irma expected to hit Florida this weekend, likely as a Category 4 storm, time was quickly running out.
"Madison Keys will be her main rival but there are a lot of good players". She played a stupendous tournament, one that is no less surprising that Stephens', to make her first Slam final.
"I should just retire now", Stephens joked after the match.
Keys brushed aside compatriot Coco Vandeweghe 6-1, 6-2. She ended up winning more points than I did. Meanwhile, Keys rebounded from two wrist surgeries to win Stanford, her first hard court title. One of these three has a chance to become the fourth American woman in the Open Era to win their first major title on home soil, joining Tracy Austin, Lindsay Davenport and Serena Williams. "I'm so happy that Maddie and I were able to play in the final today", she added.
"It's incredible", said Stephens. "To get to play her was really special. I just made too many errors there are at the end".
Stephens is just 24, which hopefully means she has a long career ahead of her: Venus is 37, and Serena is 35, and those two ladies are still killing it.