US Open Lookahead: Serena Williams’ Slam bid runs into Keys

Serena Williams reacts after winning a point against Bethanie Mattek-Sands during the third round of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, Friday, Sept. 4, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Serena Williams reacts after winning a point against Bethanie Mattek-Sands during the third round of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, Friday, Sept. 4, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

6 September 2015

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NEW YORK (AP) — It’s not that Madison Keys thinks Serena Williams’ bid for a true Grand Slam is not a compelling story line.

It’s just that the 20-year-old American is as eager to claim the U.S. Open championship as Williams is, of course — and, to do that, Keys must first win their fourth-round showdown in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Sunday.

So when Keys was asked by a reporter how she would feel about being “remembered as the villain” in Williams’ “fairy tale,” the question drew a shrug.

“What am I going to say? ‘I want her to beat me?'” Keys replied. “I mean, yeah, I want to go out and I want to win. I mean, obviously it’s a big story: She’s won four (major titles) in a row and she’s going for the calendar-year (Slam). That’s great, but at the same time I want to win. So I’d be OK with beating her, yeah.”

Makes sense.

The No. 1-seeded Williams has won all 24 Grand Slam matches she’s played in 2015, and needs four more victories to become the first tennis player since Steffi Graf in 1988 to win the sport’s four most prestigious tournaments in the same season. Williams also won last year’s U.S. Open, so her winning streak at majors is 31 matches.

Serena Williams reacts after a point against Bethanie Mattek-Sands during the third round of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, Friday, Sept. 4, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Serena Williams reacts after a point against Bethanie Mattek-Sands during the third round of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, Friday, Sept. 4, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

And she acknowledges there is pressure to make history.

“I mean, of course it’s there. I’m not a robot or anything,” the 33-year-old Williams said. “But at the end of the day I’m just here to do the best I can. If that means I win, then great. But if it doesn’t, then you know what? I can’t let that affect me.”

She has played Keys once before, beating in her straight sets in the semifinals of the Australian Open in January. Their games are similar, both based on huge serves and powerful groundstrokes.

Keys, never before past the second round at Flushing Meadows, is coached by Lindsay Davenport, a former No. 1 and three-time major champion who went 4-10 as a player against Williams, including 1-3 at the U.S. Open.

“The last time I played Lindsay was so long ago,” Williams said, “that hopefully I’ve improved. Hopefully.”

Madison Keys of the United States serves to Agnieszka Radwanska, of Poland, during the third round of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, Friday, Sept. 4, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Madison Keys of the United States serves to Agnieszka Radwanska, of Poland, during the third round of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, Friday, Sept. 4, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Here are other things to know about Sunday at the U.S. Open:

SISTER VS. SISTER?

By the time she heads out on court to face Keys, Williams already will know whether the winner’s quarterfinal opponent will be her older sister. That’s because Serena Williams vs. Keys was scheduled to follow Venus Williams vs. Anett Kontaveit in the main stadium. While Venus is 35, a former No. 1, and the owner of seven major singles titles, Kontaveit is a 19-year-old qualifier from Estonia who is ranked 152nd and hadn’t won a Grand Slam match until Monday.

FOGNINI’S FOLLOW-UP

The only man to drop the first two sets of a Grand Slam match against Rafael Nadal and come back to win — 32nd-seeded Fabio Fognini of Italy — will try to follow that up against 18th-seeded Feliciano Lopez of Spain. Fognini’s thrill-a-minute, 70-winner victory over Nadal ended at nearly 1:30 a.m. Saturday, so a big question will be how much he’s able to recover. The other men’s fourth-round matches Sunday are No. 1 Novak Djokovic vs. No. 23 Roberto Bautista Agut, defending champion Marin Cilic vs. No. 27 Jeremy Chardy, and No. 19 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs. Benoit Paire.

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