Madison Keys stunned third-seeded Jessica Pegula 6-1, 6-3 in an all-American clash at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Monday, reaching the US Open quarter-finals for the first time since 2018.
Keys crashed out of the first round at Cincinnati last month but appeared right at home on the New York hard courts, where she was runner-up in 2017, as she overwhelmed her opponent with 21 winners.
Pegula beat the 17th-seeded Keys last year in their only previous meeting and was considered one of the US’s brightest hopes after winning the Montreal title last month.
However, on Monday she lacked her usual firepower and finesse.
“I’ve had so many amazing moments in New York,” said Keys, who is playing in her 12th US Open main draw. “Being able to at any moment come back from any difficult positions I’ve been in matches has been amazing.”
Keys broke her opponent’s serve with a backhand winner in the second game of the first set and broke Pegula again on the fourth try in game six.
Pegula was clearly off her game and threw her racquet down in frustration as she helped Keys to the break with a double fault and a backhand error in the fifth game of the second set.
Pegula broke back immediately in the sixth game but Keys kept her cool, retaking the lead as she broke her opponent’s serve in the seventh game.
Keys, who counts Pegula as a close friend, pumped her fist in a subdued celebration as the top-ranked American dropped her serve again when she sent a forehand shot into the net on match point.
“It’s always tough having to play a friend … when we get on the court it’s all business,” Keys said in a courtside interview.
For Pegula, it marked yet another grand slam disappointment. She has advanced to the quarter-finals in each major tournament but has yet to reach the final four.
Keys’ quarterfinals opponent will be ninth-seeded Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic, who came back to beat unseeded American Peyton Stearns 6-7, 6-3, 6-2 to keep her dream alive of a second straight grand slam title after winning Wimbledon in July.
“I actually didn’t expect it after Wimby, there was a lot of pressure,” Vondrousova said in her post-match interview. “Let’s see what happens next.”
There was some consolation for Pegula later on Monday after she reached the quarter-finals of the doubles alongside Coco Gauff. The pair reached the final of the French Open doubles earlier this year.