Keys battles past Riske at Flushing Meadows

Eighth seed Madison Keys survived a gruelling start to her US Open campaign on Monday as she came from behind to defeat American compatriot Alison Riske 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2. 

Keys and Riske had met on five previous occasions prior to their encounter at Flushing Meadows, with Keys holding a 4-1 advantage, and the 21-year-old was not expected to have too many problems in the day’s final match on Arthur Ashe.

The eighth seed got off to a sluggish start though and was broken in the third game, handing Riske the advantage she needed to  go on to claim the first set 6-4.

Riske continued to take the attack to Keys at the start of the second set as broke the world number nine first up en route to claiming a 2-0 lead.

Pushed to the brink of elimination, Keys fought back and managed to bring herself level at 2-2 after breaking Riske in the fourth game. A tiebreak was needed to separate the pair, with Keys coming out on top to keep her US Open campaign alive.

Back on level terms, Keys then shifted her game to the next level in the deciding set as she broke Riske twice to win the third set 6-2 and book her place in the second round.

While Keys made it through, it was a day filled with surprises as a number of seeded players failed to clear the first hurdle.

Monica Puig was given a harsh reminder of the cruel nature of professional sport, with the 32nd seed, a surprise gold medal winner at the Rio Olympics, ousted in the first round by China’s Saisai Zheng in a 4-6, 2-6 defeat.

Among the other high-profile players that didn’t make it through to the second round was 18th seed Barbora Strycova, who lost 3-6, 7-6 (3), 6-1 to Monica Niculescu, 21st seed Irina-Camelia Begu, who lost 0-6, 4-6 to Lesia Tsurenko.

Earlier in the day, second seed and Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber, who has a chance to become the new world number one in the tournament, won her match against Polona Hercog after the Slovenian retired midway through the match with leg cramps. Third seed and Roland Garros winner Garbine Muguruza was given a scare in her match against Elise Mertens, but managed to triumph 2-6, 6-0, 6-3.