Eighth-seeded Madison Keys was forced to stay up late before overcoming fellow American Alison Riske to close out Monday’s (Tuesday AEST) play at Arthur Ashe Stadium on a busy opening day for the home contingent at the US Open.
Keys, who reached the Australian Open semi-finals and Wimbledon quarter-finals last year, reined in her sometimes over exuberant groundstrokes to claim a 4-6 7-6(5) 6-2 win over the 60th-ranked Riske in a gruelling two hour, 25 minute slugfest.
With the night program delayed by more than an hour following a ceremony to mark the opening of the tournament, the final match ended at 1:48 am, making it the latest women’s match ever at the US Open.
“I just looked up and it’s almost 2 (am),” the 21-year-old Keys laughed in a post-match interview. “Who wants to go party?”
After years of hand-wringing over the state of US tennis other than mighty women’s world No.1 Serena Williams, talent from the junior ranks is beginning to emerge.
At the start of play, 39 Americans were in the main draw, one fewer than the record for local players set in 2005, and by the end of the day, nine of them had advanced but 14 had already been eliminated in first round action.
Next up for Keys, who twice received treatment on her right shoulder, is another American, 16-year-old Kayla Day, the US national junior champion and youngest player in the draw.
Earlier on day one, Rio 2016 Olympic Games gold medallist Monica Puig lost her first round match 6-4 6-2 against 61st-ranked Zheng Saisai.
Puig had insisted that she was mentally ready for the year’s final major after the whirlwind of the past couple of weeks, when she stunningly beat three Grand Slam champions to become Puerto Rico’s first Olympic Games gold medallist and was feted at a parade on the island.
Still, she recognised it was quite possible her US Open trip wouldn’t go well, reminding herself that she’s just 22 years old. She’s now 1-3 at Flushing Meadows.
Zheng, also 22, upset Agnieszka Radwanska at the Olympics. She’ll be seeking to make it to the third round at a major for the first time.
Australian Open winner Angelique Kerber maintained steady course as she tries to displace Serena Williams from the top women’s ranking, with the No.2 seed rolling into the second round as her opponent quit after seven games.
The German was untouchable against Polona Hercog, who went down in a heap 6-0 1-0.
The 2015 finalist Roberta Vinci, the seventh seed who shocked Williams in a semi-final a year ago in New York, started with a defeat of German Anna-Lena Friedsam 6-2 6-4.
Former world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki began trying to correct an injury-plagued season of poor form, beating US player Taylor Townsend 4-6 6-3 6-4.
Third seed Garbine Muguruza almost fell victim to the heat but held on to beat Elise Mertens of Belgium 2-6, 6-0, 6-3.