Stephens came out on the winning side again, beating Keys 6-3, 1-6, 7-6 (7) in the opening match of the tournament in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Keys said she had a feeling she and Stephens would be paired in the first round. She played much better than in their final, when Stephens routed her 6-3, 6-0.
This time, neither player was even seeded for their match that took 2 hours, 10 minutes.
“It seems like it was a hundred years ago, not just four,” Keys said. “Yeah, the world is obviously a completely different place now as far as regular life goes. But then also with tennis, a lot has changed.
“I think Sloane and I have had some massive ups since then and we have also had some downs, but I think today’s match showed we still both really have a high level of tennis left.”
Carla Suárez Navarro couldn’t get too upset about a first-round loss in the U.S. Open. Not when this time last year, she didn’t know if she’d even have the chance to play again.
Suárez Navarro, who returned to the tour earlier this year after treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma, was beaten by No. 26 seed Danielle Collins 6-2, 6-4.
Dan Evans had a headache during his match Monday, something he couldn’t recall having before.
The No. 24 seed hopes it was just the heat and his conditioning, not any lingering effects of the coronavirus.
Whatever it was, Evans fought through it to beat Thiago Monteiro 6-3, 6-7 (6), 6-4, 6-1.
The British player reached the third round of Wimbledon but then tested positive for COVID-19 and had to miss the Olympics. He didn’t return to the tour until Washington earlier this month and had only one victory since.
“It’s just like an injury,” Evans said. “It grinds you to a halt.”
He said he didn’t have any shortness of breath Monday and felt pretty good at the end of his match, so was optimistic his problems weren’t related to his illness.
“I’m hoping obviously for me it’s not the lasting effects and I’m just not very fit at the moment,” Evans said.
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