Racket Reaction: Madison Keys' early-morning US Open heroics

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 StosurElena 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?”

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.

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