NEW YORK, NY, USA -- No.10 seed Madison Keys of the United States kicked off her 2019 US Open campaign with a 7-5, 6-0 victory over Misaki Doi of Japan on Monday night, to move into the second round of her home Grand Slam event.
Keys, who reached the US Open final in 2017 and the semifinals last year, had been occasionally troubled in the past by left-handed Doi, bringing a 4-2 head-to-head lead over the Japanese player into the tilt. In this instance, Keys was able to earn a close first set before cruising through the second set to wrap up a victory after 63 minutes of play.
"I think [Doi] played really well in the first set," Keys said in her post-match press conference. "I think I raised my level in the second. Happy to win in straight sets."
The American is back in the Top 10 after winning the biggest title of her career in Cincinnati two weeks ago, and claimed her opening-round victory in New York with 26 winners to Doi's three. World No.108 Doi, who was seeking her first Grand Slam main-draw win since 2016, stayed with Keys up to 5-5 in the first set, but lost the final eight games as she was ultimately undone by 20 unforced errors.
"I think [Doi is] really tough because she hits so flat and so fast," said Keys. "She likes to take the angles away. The first couple of games I was obviously struggling with that a little bit. I think once I figured out how I wanted to play her and kind of try to go through the middle, more get her off the baseline, things started working for me a little bit better."
Keys will now face Zhu Lin of China in the second round, which will be their first meeting. Zhu defeated her compatriot, qualifier Wang Xinyu, 6-3, 6-4, in an earlier first-round match on Monday.
"It's always tough when you play someone for the first time," Keys stated. "You don't really know their game style. My coach got to watch some of [Zhu] today, so [I'm] going to rely on him a lot. Hopefully I can find some stuff online so I just kind of know what is coming."
An early exchange of breaks signaled a closely contested first set, and indeed the combatants were evenly matched for the majority of the opener. Keys used her power game to propel herself through the set, while the lefty serves of Doi were often good enough to handcuff Keys and catch the American off guard.
At 5-5, Keys fired off a thunderous hold, beginning with a backhand passing winner and ending with a forehand winner down the line, to put the pressure on Doi. The Japanese player stumbled, hitting two unforced errors and a double fault en route to double set point for Keys. On the first, Doi blasted a backhand miscue wide, and Keys had eked out a one-set lead.
After her narrow first-set win, Keys was an unstoppable force in the second set. The American crushed a backhand return winner to break Doi for a 2-0 lead, and consolidated for 3-0 with four consecutive winners -- two from the forehand, one from the backhand, and an ace.
As the set progressed, Keys continued to find fantastic winners to knock off games despite Doi's best efforts. Keys blasted another return winner on break point to get to 4-0, and fired a backhand passing shot down the line to pick up her seventh straight game and reach 5-0.
Doi continued to fight in the next game, using aggressive play to fend off four match points in a last-ditch attempt to prolong the affair. Strong volleying by the Japanese player erased the fourth match point, but a netted backhand gave Keys a fifth opportunity. The American excitedly closed out the match there, with a backhand crosscourt winner and a scream of delight.