The fans at the US Open third round match between home favorite Madison Keys and Indian Wells champion Elena Vesnina saw a thrilling battle between two top-20 players, with the American overcoming a slow start to triumph in three sets as the Russian failed to capitalize her opportunities in the match, wasting eight break points along the way.
Vesnina strolls to clinch the first set 6-2
Having to wait a couple more hours than expected was certainly not easy for the players, who had to endure with the pressure while time elapsed. Keys led their head-to-head and did not lose to the Russian in any of their previous meetings, and came into the match as the huge favorite.
After producing an incredible one-two punch on the first point, everything started going wrong for Keys as she started to become erratic, allowing Vesnina to take the early break. The Russian faced some early nerves on her serve as she served a shell-shocking three double faults in her first service game. However, on the fifth deuce, Vesnina threw in a 99 MPH second serve to earn her a game point, consolidating the break in the toughest way possible.
Unforced errors continued to plague the American as she soon fell behind a double break, looking all over the place. Nonetheless, Keys finally got onto the scoreboard after the Russian threw in another double fault on break point, reflecting her early jitters. Keys started to find her groove as she easily held her serve to love, lessening the deficit to just one game.
Vesnina remained composed, staying solid on her serve before relying on some errors by the American to open up a huge 5-2 lead. Serving for the set, Vesnina overcame the pressure to narrowly hold her serve and be halfway from the huge win. This was the first set Vesnina had won over Keys in all their meetings.
Vesnina fails to convert her chances, Keys steals the second set
Carrying over the momentum from the first set, the Russian earned a break point in the opening game of the second. However, Keys found some of her best tennis at the crucial moments, coming up with powerful serves to narrowly hold onto her service game. Vesnina earned another four break points in the third game, but her nerves prevented her from taking the lead as unforced errors started to come off her racquet more often, with Keys escaping from the brink once more.
There was a huge twist to the plot as the American opened up a comfortable 4-1 lead, fending off another three break points leaving Vesnina helpless with her inability to capitalize on her opportunities. Unexpectedly, Vesnina rattled off 12 of the next 15 points to return level within a blink of an eye, keeping herself in contention for the straight-sets victory.
However, Vesnina looked to have lost the momentum and failed to send in any solid groundstrokes, allowing Keys to dictate play and regain the lead. Serving to stay in the set, the Russian became increasingly erratic and was completely lost at the net, eventually losing the set 4-6 in 50 minutes.
Keys serves her way into the fourth round
Keys had the momentum throughout the whole of the final set and finally started to consistently play some ruthless aggressive tennis. While the American excelled, Vesnina started to lose the plot in all aspects of her game, with her forehands missing in action. Winning just eight points in the opening five games of the decider, the Russian found herself down 0-5 and had to serve to stay in the match having lost seven games consecutively.
The match looked to be over but the Indian Wells champion continued to give her all as she held her serve from 0-30 down and prevented the bagel. Nonetheless, the home favorite eventually clinched the win in an hour and 54 minutes, triumphing from a set down for a third fourth-round appearance in Flushing Meadows.