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US Open: Barty fights back while Serena continues domination of Sharapova

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Roar Guru
27th August, 2019
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Day 1 of the 2019 US Open had it all – a gritty fightback, the continuation of the sport’s most lopsided rivalry, and business as usual for men’s heavyweights Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer.

Reigning French Open champion Ashleigh Barty had the honour of opening play on Arthur Ashe Stadium for this year’s tournament, but was slow to get going, falling behind 5-0 after just 20 minutes against her opponent, Zarina Diyas.

The 23-year-old dropped the opening set 6-1 but would not face any more break points for the remainder of the match, fighting back to win in three sets.

In the second round she will face Lauren Davis, who took care of Sweden’s Johanna Larsson in straight sets. Barty will need to be aware of what Davis can bring, especially after she upset then-reigning Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber at the All England Club last month.

Barty remains on track to face Serena Williams in the quarter-finals, after the American, appearing at Flushing Meadows for the first time since last year’s meltdown in the final, brushed aside Maria Sharapova for the loss of just two games in less than one hour.

For all the hype surrounding their first-ever meeting in the Big Apple, 37-year-old Williams made a mockery of what was supposed to be a danger match, racking up her 19th consecutive win against the Russian dating back to the start of 2005, and 20th overall.

Serena Williams

Serena Williams (Photo by Fred Lee/Getty Images)

The result means that Williams has now beaten Sharapova at every Major, defeating her four times at the Australian Open (2005, 2007, 2015 and 2016), once at the French Open (2013), twice at Wimbledon (2010 and 2015), and now once in America.

As for Sharapova, one has to wonder whether her best tennis is beyond her, having largely struggled since returning from a doping suspension in mid-2017.

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Other winners in the women’s draw included recent Cincinnati champion Madison Keys, Johanna Konta and Karolina Pliskova, as well as Venus Williams and Elina Svitolina, who will both meet in the second round.

In the men’s draw, Federer dropped the first set against Indian qualifier Sumit Nagal before progressing to the second round, while Djokovic made light work of Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena, dropping just nine games in a straight-forward victory.

Just before the tournament started, 2017 runner-up Kevin Anderson withdrew due to injury, with his place in the draw taken by lucky loser Paolo Lorenzi.

The Italian made the most of his second chance, defeating American wildcard Zachary Svajda in five sets to also advance to the second round.

His countryman, Fabio Fognini, was not so lucky, the 11th seed becoming the highest-ranked player to depart on the opening day after losing to American giant Reilly Opelka in four sets.

Kamil Majchrzak, another lucky loser who got a late call-up after the late withdrawal of Canada’s Milos Raonic, also made the most of his second chance by defeating Nicolas Jarry in five sets.

Fifth seed Daniil Medvedev, who is yet to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final, defeated Prajnesh Gunneswaran in straight sets as he bids to become the first Russian man since Marat Safin in 2005 to win a Major.

Other winners included Borna Coric and Grigor Dimitrov, who will face off in the second round on Thursday morning (AEST), as well as Alex de Minaur. Kei Nishikori advanced after his opponent, Marco Trungelliti, retired in the second set.

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Day 2 will see the likes of 12-times French Open champion Rafael Nadal take on last year’s giant killer John Millman, while Naomi Osaka will also get her title defence underway.

On Louis Armstrong Stadium, earplugs will be a must for the all-Belarussian battle between ninth seed Aryna Sabalenka and former world number one Victoria Azarenka, while Nick Kyrgios will bring the flair for his clash against local favourite Steve Johnson.

Nick Kyrgios during the Washington Open final.

Nick Kyrgios (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Earlier, on the same court, Australian Open semi-finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas will get his campaign underway against Russian Andrey Rublev, while reigning Wimbledon champion Simona Halep and teenage sensation Cori Gauff are also in action.

Former Grand Slam champions Garbine Muguruza and Caroline Wozniacki will highlight the line-up on the Grandstand.

Matches to watch on Day 2

Arthur Ashe Stadium
Day session – play starts at 12 midday (2am AEST)
[1] Naomi Osaka (JPN) vs Anna Blinkova (RUS)
Thomas Fabbiano (ITA) vs [4] Dominic Thiem (AUT)

Night session – play starts at 7pm (9am AEST)
John Millman (AUS) vs [2] Rafael Nadal (ESP)
[11] Sloane Stephens (USA) vs Anna Kalinskaya (RUS)

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Louis Armstrong Stadium
Day session – play starts at 11am (1am AEST)
[8] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) vs Andrey Rublev (RUS)
[4] Simona Halep (ROU) vs Nicole Gibbs (USA)
Not before 3pm (5am AEST)
Anastasia Potapova (RUS) Cori Gauff (USA)

Night session – play starts at 7pm (9am AEST)
[9] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) vs Victoria Azarenka (BLR)
Steve Johnson (USA) vs [28] Nick Kyrgios (AUS)

Grandstand
Day session – play starts at 11am (1am AEST)
Alison Riske (USA) vs [24] Garbine Muguruza (ESP)
[14] John Isner (USA) vs Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (ESP)
[19] Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) vs Wang Yafan (CHN)
Denis Shapovalov (CAN) vs [18] Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN)