As the tennis world is awaiting the clash between Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova in the night session, packed Day 1 at the US Open saw the 2016 champion Angelique Kerber wave goodbye to the crowd, while world No.2 Ashleigh Barty fought through on the busy Monday despite a very low first-serve percentage.
Playing Kazakhstan’s world No.80 Zarina Diyas, Barty squeezed into the second round even though just 43% of her first serves got in. The 23-year-old reigning French Open champion lost the first set in less than half an hour, but from 3-3 in the second set, she won nine of the last 11 games to survive 1-6 6-3 6-2.
Barty thus continues to be one of the most consistent Top 10 players this season, with a staggering 90.9% rate of reaching R16 at tournaments. Moreover, Barty is one of four players that have the chance to hold the No.1 ranking after the year’s final Grand Slam and is actually the front runner to return to the top.
This is the first time since 2007 that Angelique Kerber has not won a match on US soil ahead of the US Open and her performance at Flushing Meadows wasn’t any better, as the German fell to France’s Kristina Mladenovic 7-5 0-6 6-4 in the first round. The 26-year-old Mladenovic, who currently sits at No.2 with Timea Babos on the Porsche Race to Shenzhen leaderboard in doubles, was brilliant at the net, winning 23 of the 30 points (77%).
The 14th-seeded Kerber has particularly struggled at Grand Slams this season, losing in the fourth round of the Australian Open (the tournament she won in 2016), the first round of the French Open and the second round of Wimbledon (where she was the champion in 2018).