NEW YORK, NY, USA - No.14 seed Madison Keys began her third straight US Open campaign under the lights on Arthur Ashe Stadium, and enjoyed a decisive 6-4, 6-4 win over French veteran Pauline Parmentier to reach the second round.
"I think I did a good job today," Keys said after the match. "After having kind of a too amped-up start, being able to dial it down and work the points. I was most happy with how I stayed in rallies and was waiting for the right ball, not pulling the trigger too soon."
Battling through a pair of prolonged three-setters in her 2016 and 2017 first rounds, Keys had fewer problems on Tuesday night, avoiding the sweltering conditions from earlier in the day to dispatch the TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Cup champion after 94 minutes on court.
"It was hot. Even though it was the second night match, it was hot. It was really humid. Obviously I was lucky enough to not have the sun aspect on top of it. I would imagine that a lot of people really struggled today just because even right now it's still pretty brutal outside."
Parmentier has been in the midst of a career resurgence in 2018, winning her first WTA title in 10 years in Istanbul to return to the Top 100, and took an early break advantage on the young American to start the opening set.
Keys immediately broke back and won a marathon tenth game to clinch the set on her second opportunity as the evening wore on.
"There's just a buzz at night. Might have something to do with the people who are enjoying refreshments in the suites, but there's just an energy. When you're one of the late matches, it empties out but almost feels louder because the people who have stayed are 100% committed to staying, like you guys.
"Everyone is so excited. Everyone comes down and fills up the lower section. There's really no words to describe the energy."
The second set saw a similar exchange of breaks as Parmentier looked to push a deciding set, only for the No.14 seed to reclaim the momentum and treat the crowd to a titanic final game before securing victory on her sixth match point.
"That many?" Keys joked when told of the stat. "They all blur together. I don't feel like I know what an early finish feels like any more. I feel like I'm used to it. I'm really lucky to be able to have so many great night matches on Ashe."
In all, Keys struck a solid 29 winners to 28 unforced errors - along with six aces - while the Frenchwoman hit 13 winners to 30 unforced errors.
Up next for Keys is fellow American Bernarda Pera, who outlasted French Open quarterfinalist Yulia Putintseva, 7-6(6), 6-4.
"I think she's a great player, had some really good results this year. We had a tough match in Charleston. I mean, I'm definitely going to have to play some really good tennis to beat her. I'm looking forward to having another all-American matchup at the US Open."