NEW YORK, NY, USA - In an all-American clash under the lights of Arthur Ashe Stadium, it was former US Open finalist Madison Keys that emerged victorious against Sofia Kenin to book her spot into the fourth round.
No.10 seed Keys, who claimed the biggest title of her career in Cincinnati at the Western & Southern Open a few weeks ago, saved all eight of the break points she faced en route to a 6-3, 7-5 win - her ninth consecutive match win.
“Luckily I was able to get through it,” Keys told press after the match. “I feel like I played some good points in some big moments when I needed to. Just really happy I got through in two.”
Both players came into the third-round clash as two of the most in form players of the summer, with Kenin backing up her French Open stunner over Serena Williams with even better results on the North American hardcourts. She posted back-to-back Premier 5 semifinals in Toronto and Cincinnati - taking out two World No.1s in Ashleigh Barty and Naomi Osaka along the way.
It was the pair’s second meeting in as many tournaments, with Keys taking down Kenin in straight sets in the Cincinnati semifinals en route to the title.
Kenin was keen to avoid that same fate tonight on Ashe, keeping pace with Keys for most of the opening exchanges. But it was the 2017 finalist who took command, surging to a 4-1 lead after an early break. Keys played her signature attacking tennis to keep Kenin pegged back in the rallies, and comfortably served out the opening set, 6-3.
The No.20 seed will likely rue her missed opportunities in the second set, having held a staggering eight unconverted break points against Keys - including six across Keys’ first three service games.
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Keys needed a medical time out in the second set after feeling ‘super nauseous’, but rallied back to claim the victory with a late break at 6-5 to book her spot into the fourth round after an hour and 20 minutes.
“It was super weird,” Keys said, explaining her medical time out. “Just kind of in the middle of the first set, all of a sudden started feeling not perfect. The end of the first wasn't feeling amazing… Just super nauseous.”
Up next, Keys will continue her US Open campaign in the second week against No.5 Elina Svitolina, who also triumphed against her own countrywoman Dayana Yastremska, 6-2, 6-0.
“It's going to be tough,” Keys acknowledged. “I'm just going to go back and try to get better. Also just look at my match from Australia playing her, see what was working well and what wasn't. Just do what I can to execute better.”