"Did I feel for her? Yes. Was I really happy that I won? Yes," said Madison Keys, reflecting on her miraculous turnaround against Japanese teen Naomi Osaka in the third round of the 2016 US Open. Osaka was up 5-1 in the third set and on the verge of a mammoth upset when she let it all slip away. Keys swept the next five games en route to a 7-5, 4-6, 7-6(3) victory, leaving her stunned 18-year-old opponent in tears in Ashe Stadium. You couldn’t help but feel for Osaka, a heavy hitter who took some tough lessons from the lost opportunity.
"I kind of learned how to handle my nerves better and not really show my emotions on the court that much when they're negative," the 52nd-ranked Osaka told BNPParibasOpen.com. "It was just the occasion. I was really anxious about it. I'd never really had that kind of lead against a Top 10 player." She'll get a chance at revenge in Stadium 1 against the American Keys, who has returned to the tour after the longest injury layoff (wrist) of her career.
AGE IS JUST AN ILLUSION
At 36, Venus Williams is playing the kind of tennis that produced seven slam titles between 2000 and 2008. In January, she reached her first major final in eight years, and she’s into the third round here thanks to a never-say-die, three-set 1-6, 7-6(5), 6-1 comeback against longtime rival Jelena Jankovic. On Day 8, she'll encounter the surging Czech Lucie Safarova, herself a three-set 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 winner over American Coco Vandeweghe. Williams has claimed four of their six career meetings, although Safarova has won the last two.
PULLING FOR VASEK
Vasek Pospisil, who on Saturday night stunned World No. 1 Andy Murray, has become a local favorite of sorts. The Canadian recently spent his off-season training here with his new coach, former touring pro and Coachella Valley-based Mark Woodforde. And after scraping through the qualifying round and upsetting a three-time Slam champ, the biggest win of his young career, the 129th-ranked player has the locals pulling for him. The 26 year old will be in action in both singles (vs. fellow qualifier Dusan Lajovic of Serbia) and doubles with American Steve Johnson (vs. Lukasz Kubot/Marcelo Melo) on Stadium 4.
SASCHA & MISCHA
The Zverev Bros. are all the rage these days. Alexander (who goes by Sascha) is a #NextGenATP standout who’s risen to No. 20 in the world before the age of 20. Earlier this year, he downed three Frenchmen — including Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet — on his way to the Montpellier title, the second of his career. Meanwhile, his older brother, Mischa, 29, shocked the tennis world by defeating top-ranked Andy Murray in reaching the Australian Open quarterfinals. The Germans will team up on Stadium 6 against the potent tandem of Henri Kontinen/John Peers, who can boast the 2017 Australian Open and 2016 ATP Finals titles amongst their many accomplishments.
American John Isner -- all 6-foot-10 of him -- will bring one of the most potent weapons in the sport (his serve) to Stadium 1 for a nightcap against the wildly athletic Frenchman Gael Monfils. Isner is still finding his rhythm in 2017, while Monfils has posted quarterfinals in Marseille and Dubai. They've met here before, with Isner claiming a 6-7(5), 6-1, 6-4 second-round clash in 2009. Their head-to-head stands at an even 4-4.