Reigning French Open champion Ashleigh Barty shook off an “appalling” first set to defeat Kazakhstan’s Zarina Diyas 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 Monday in the first round of the US Open.
The Australian second seed advanced to a second-round match against America’s 73rd-ranked Lauren Davis.
“I probably would have preferred if it was a little bit more straightforward, but, yeah, happy the way we were able to fight through that and find a way after a pretty awful start,” said Barty.
“I think I just didn’t give myself a chance in that first set. Sort of appalling, probably made a set’s worth of errors. I think it was just nice to kind of lock down a little bit. It took some time to kind of break her down in the end.”
Barty is favorite to regain the number one ranking after the Flushing Meadows fortnight, with incumbent Naomi Osaka, Wimbledon champion Simona Halep and Kristina Pliskova also in contention.
Her opening match was Barty’s first singles outing on the cavernous Arthur Ashe Stadium court, where she lifted the women’s doubles title alongside CoCo Vandeweghe a year ago.
“It was cool. A bit of a unique feeling, bizarre feeling walking back out on to Arthur Ashe. It was really cool. Different to what it felt like during that match,” said Barty.
“Obviously it was an incredible atmosphere, and then walking out to practice obviously has a bit of a different buzz.
“Incredible memories from my time here in New York last year, an extremely good fortnight of tennis, both in singles and doubles.
“I’m just glad we’re off to a good start here and now we can start really getting our teeth stuck into the tournament.”
The 23-year-old, who during a break from tennis played cricket for the Brisbane Heat in the Women’s Big Bash League four years ago, has also been keeping a close eye on the ongoing Ashes series between England and Australia.
England levelled the five-match showdown with an incredible one-wicket win at Headingley on Sunday, as Ben Stokes produced one of the greatest innings in Test history with a remarkable 135 not out.
“Credit where credit’s due. Stokesy was incredible. I think we missed some opportunities and my whole team were glued to it,” said Barty, who returned to tennis in 2016 ranked 683 in the world.
“I have an English trainer, as well. He’s had a fantastic 24 hours of feeding it to us and not letting us forget that result. Yeah, I mean, I’m glued to it. Another couple of Tests to go. We will enjoy those as well.”