A top-20 American women's tennis player won handily Wednesday at Arthur Ashe Stadium, 6-1, 6-2 in 54 minutes. No, her last name was not Williams -- Serena needed a tiebreaker to win in two sets and Venus needed three sets.
Madison Keys is the future of American women's tennis. At 20, she has already been ranked as high as No. 16. She is currently No. 19 and has two Grand Slam quarterfinal appearances. At this year's Australian Open, Keys reached the semifinals, beating Grand Slam champions Petra Kvitová and Venus along the way before losing to eventual champ Serena.
"I think I have slowly kind of had my name out there a little bit more and had some success," Keys says. "I'm a little bit more of a known American player."
With Serenamania controlling the domestic headlines at the U.S. Open, Keys is in the backdrop. In the post-Williams sisters crop of American women, which includes Sloane Stephens, Coco Vanderweghe, Madison Brengle, Christina McHale and Alison Riske, Keys has taken the lead as America's next It Girl. Keys cannot have a legal drink, but she has two WTA finals appearances and a whole lot of potential.
Keys' second-round win over Tereza Smitkova was her debut on Arthur Ashe Stadium. It felt more like a long time coming than a career accomplishment.
"I don't know if it's because of the roof now, but it didn't seem as big as I thought it was going to feel," she says.
The pros are buying in. Before the 2015 season began, Keys took on a familiar face as her coach: Lindsay Davenport. The results are indicative of the change.
"I told her, ‘You know, you are way better than 30,'" Davenport said in January when Keys was ranked lower and unseeded at the Australian Open. "'And I don’t know exactly what the reason is you are only ranked there, but you play much better and you have to start to believe that and you have to start to act like it. You’ve got to play the role here.'"
Davenport won her first Grand Slam at 22 when she beat a 17-year-old Martina Hingis at the 1998 U.S. Open. In the semifinals, Davenport swept past an 18-year-old Venus.
Youngsters do not control tennis like they used to, but Davenport has Keys believing she can compete and learning on the fly.
"It's probably been the best year that I have had," Keys says. "It hasn't been perfect. There have been some ups and downs, but I think that's the nature of tennis. I still haven't quite figured everything out."
It is fitting for Davenport and Keys to bookend the Era of the Williams Sisters. When Davenport won her third Grand Slam at the 2000 Australian Open (she also won the 1999 Wimbledon), Serena and Venus had combined for one: Serena's 1999 U.S. Open. Davenport made four other Grand Slam finals, losing to either Serena or Venus every time. Serena and Venus have won 27 majors since Davenport's Melbourne moment.
Davenport is training the best hope to eventually dethrone the Williams sisters as queen of American women's tennis.
"I think she's such a positive for me in the sense of I can be really tough on myself and she's always in my corner," Keys says. "Even after some of the worst matches or a really bad loss or something like that, she's always there to remind me, it's tennis. Have fun."
Keys has only faced Serena or Venus three times–the win over Venus and the loss to Serena in Melbourne and a straight sets loss to Venus in 2013. Both are in Keys' quarter of the bracket.
Names on paper do not scare her.
"I actually didn't even look at the draw," she says with a smile.
Keys is lined up to battle Serena if both reach the fourth round, and Venus could be a potential quarterfinal matchup.
Like any young American -- male or female -- Keys grew up studying the Williams sisters. On Serena, Keys says:
"I think her drive and fight is unmatched by anyone. She's amazing to watch and you can see that even when she's down a set and a break, you never think, oh, Serena's going to lose this match. You always have this feeling that she can come back from anything. I think it's incredible to watch."
Before a hypothetical Serena matchup, Keys will meet Agnieszka Radwanska, the Polish No. 15 seed who beat Keys in this year's Wimbledon quarterfinals. Radwanska has won all four outings between the pair, two coming in grand slams.
This is the first in Flushing Meadows.
"I'm not expecting [the crowd to be] cheering for me, obviously," Radwanska says. "That's always the price when you're playing someone from the country that's their home tournament. For sure, it's going to be rowdy and loud."
Maybe if this was a year ago, Radwanska would not have to worry about the crowd. Americans are getting to know Keys and her potential.
They even recognize her off the court.
"A woman recognized me as she was driving and hit her breaks and rolled the window down and screamed out her window," Keys says of a fan encounter in Los Angeles this summer. "She was freaking out and rolling down her window, and I was freaking out…[she] was like, 'I love you.' I was like 'OK, don't crash. Bye!'"
The only crash course Madison Keys is on is for the top of the American women's tennis ladder, if not the WTA Tour ladder. She is locked in, and if her first year with Davenport is a preview, the best is yet to come.
For American fans, that is a very good thing. And she is someone they should get to know.