NEW YORK — Two well-defined American streaks collided Monday night in the first round of the US Open.
Madison Keys, 21, who has the look of a future No. 1 player, has reached the second week of the past five Grand Slams. In 2015, Keys sailed into the semifinals of the Australian Open, losing to Serena Williams.
Meanwhile, 26-year-old Alison Riske — ranked No. 60 among WTA players — had lost her first-round match in the past eight majors.
Seems like an easy call, right?
Well, for the longest time, this one was a fair fight. Keys, surviving some early instability, rallied with a tenacious 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2 victory.
For the record, the match ended at 1:49 a.m. ET, the latest-ending women’s match in US Open history. It surpassed the Samantha Stosur–Elena Dementieva battle that concluded at 1:35 a.m. ET six years ago.
“I’m feeling pretty good,” Keys said in her on-court interview. “I just looked up and it’s almost 2 a.m. Who wants to go party?”
USTA vetoes Keys’ sponsor logo affixed to skin
Madison Keys was not allowed to wear an Orangetheory Fitness logo that was temporarily stuck to her shoulder, as it was vetoed by the USTA on Monday.
Keys rallies vs. Riske to avoid US Open upset
Madison Keys recovered from a first-set loss to beat fellow American Alison Riske in the first round of the US Open early Tuesday morning.
Ekaterina Makarova, a 5-foot-11 Russian with a two-handed backhand and a tricky serve, is one of just two left-handers who have beaten Serena Williams in a Grand Slam event.
Keys will live to see another day in the city that never sleeps. Here are some quick late-night, early-morning takeaways from the match:
Keys is on fire: She has now won 26 of her past 32 matches, which includes a run to the Montreal final, where she fell to Simona Halep in the championship match. Keys, at No. 8, was nearly the highest-seeded player to depart the tournament on its first day. After the fifth game of the second set, she needed a medical timeout when the WTA trainer worked on her right shoulder.
Riske is not afraid of the big players: At the 2013 US Open, she knocked off No. 10 Petra Kvitova, a two-time Grand Slam champion. Last year, she took down No. 10 Carla Suarez Navarro. But Keys improved her head-to-head record against Riske to 5-1.
Keys might be a tad tired: Call it the Rio Effect. Keys played for the bronze medal in Rio, but lost to Kvitova. The following week she withdrew from the New Haven tournament with a neck injury. Through the first two sets, Riske seemed sharper and more engaged, but Keys found her rhythm in the crucial second-set tiebreaker and never looked back.
New York is Riske’s kind of town: She was born in Pittsburgh and now lives in Nashville, but New York seems to agree with her. That US Open three years ago, which included a trip to the fourth round, was her best Slam ever. However, ESPN analyst Chris Evert called this her best US Open match ever.