The last tennis Grand Slam event of the season, the U.S. Open is underway in New York and it started with a scare for second seeded Ash Barty.
Playing the 80th ranked player in the world, Kazakhstan’s Zarina Diyas, Barty surrendered the first set in seven games, which it would be easy to say was not the start Barty envisioned.
Barty woke up and won the next two sets, for a final score of 1 – 6, 6 – 3 and 6 – 2.
The ranking might be a bit off in this instance, as Diyas has shown indications of a rising player and it is certain Barty did not take her lightly, because women’s professional tennis is filled with players that can go toe-to-toe with anyone out there and it is rare to see a lower ranked player surrender out of a sense of awe over their opponent.
Barty has been flirting with the WTA No. 1 ranking this season following her win in the 2019 French Open. She has compiled a singles match record of 42 wins against 8 losses this season.
Barty, however, is not immune to ambushes, as her loss at Wimbledon to No. 55 Alison Riske in the fourth round demonstrates.
Her next match will find her across the net from American Lauren Davis. Davis is ranked seven spots higher than Diyas, so Barty will not fail to prepare with the certainty that rankings do not count for anything.
There is not by way of form to tip this match. The two played a semifinal in Acapulco in 2014, where, interestingly, Barty surrendered the first set at two before winning the second at three and prevailing 7 – 5 in the decider.
Barty nearly squandered a favourable U.S. Open draw with Diyas and Davis to start, but if she gets past Davis, the quality of the opposition begins to increase and Barty could meet her first seeded opponent, Maria Sakkari of Greece.