Last year, Madison Keys rode a wave of crowd support from the fervent New York fans and a string of upsets into her Grand Slam final debut before she fell to Sloane Stephens in the first all-American women’s final at the US Open in 15 years.
Those memories are still very fresh in Keys' mind, as she prepares for the start of the year’s last Grand Slam on Monday at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
“I think the biggest thing is remembering that there were a lot of matches where I was down a break in the third, or it could have very easily gone the other way,” said Keys of her back-to-back three-set wins in the third and fourth rounds last year.
“But I found a way to stay in the match. I definitely used the crowd. I think that’s the thing that I’m most excited about, just being able to be back in front of a home crowd and have the buzz of the US Open."
Yet, at the same time, the 23-year-old Keys knows that the past is in the past, starting when the No. 15 seed begins the tournament against Pauline Parmentier of France. Keys beat Parmentier in a Fed Cup semifinal match this spring.
“I think I have to kind of remember it’s a new tournament,” said Keys, who is working with new coach David Taylor, who replaced Lindsay Davenport this spring. “It’s a different year. People are playing better. I think it’s going to be obviously a totally different experience for me.
“But I do have the experience of getting through a lot of tough matches and being able to use the crowd to help me through some tough moments,” said Keys, who reached the Cincinnati quarterfinals in her only hard-court tournament this summer.
“So that’s definitely where I feel like I have that experience under my belt and I feel more comfortable coming back into this US Open.”