When Americans Madison Keys and Madison Brengle won their first-round matches at the Australian Open, Keys was asked at a news conference if she knew anyone else with the unusual name Madison.
“I think it's actually a pretty popular name for younger people,” the 19-year-old Keys said, causing some laughter in the room. “Walking through grocery stores, I hear it a lot. But Madison (and I) are a few of the older ones. I think it's more like 5 and 6 year olds.”
On Saturday, Keys and Brengle both won again to set up a meeting in the fourth round, ensuring at least one American — and one Madison — will move on to the quarterfinals.
“We're obviously representing our name pretty well,” Keys said.
With new coach Lindsay Davenport watching from the stands at Rod Laver Arena, Keys matched big-hitting Czech Petra Kvitova stroke for stroke and broke the two-time Wimbledon champion's serve five times to advance with a 6-4, 7-5 win.
A 5-foot-10 power hitter with good footwork and speed, Keys has an all-court game that has drawn comparisons to Davenport. Now, with Davenport and her husband Jon Leach as her coaches, she got the breakthrough win at a major that was long expected of her.
“Obviously this is my first time in the second week of a Grand Slam. I feel good about it,” she said. “But at the same time it's one of those things where I want more. … So I'm not really getting ahead of myself and letting myself get too excited over this.”
While Keys has the celebrity coach and has been tipped as a future star, the 24-year-old Brengle is more of a late bloomer.
A speedy counterpuncher from Dover, Delaware, Brengle has played almost exclusively on the second-tier women's pro tour. She showed enough talent as a teenager to earn a few wild cards to slams, but after the 2008 French Open she failed to qualify for another one for more than six years.
“I played Caroline (Wozniacki) a bunch in juniors and she got to No. 1 and you see that it can be done,” Brengle said. “But at the same time, everybody kind of progresses at their own pace so I don't think you want to compare yourself too much with other players.”
Brengle has finally started to string together good results in the last few months at the same time she's been dealing with a serious health concern. Two days before the U.S. Open, she discovered a strange spot on her leg and it was later diagnosed as cancerous.
“They found it really, really early. We took care of it,” she said. “I have a nice scar on my leg to show for it.”
She's been applying and reapplying sunblock during every match in Australia — and continuing to win. On Saturday, she beat fellow American Coco Vandeweghe 6-3, 6-2 to set up the fourth-round match with Keys.
One of them will make the quarters — the first American besides Serena Williams to do so at a major since Stephens made two in 2013. “Everybody kind of pushes each other,” Brengle said. “I'm really, really optimistic with how American women's tennis is looking.”