After falling short at Wimbledon, Ashleigh Barty is refusing to take comfort in an innocuous-looking US Open draw that should pose few first-week problems for the world No.2.
Barty has arrived for the season’s final major relaxed and ready for a serious title assault after enjoying some overdue rest following her French Open triumph in June.
But Australia’s big hope is taking nothing for granted despite world No.30 Maria Sakkari being the highest-ranked rival standing between Barty and a place in the last 16.
“If we look through draws and everyone who is expected to win, then there would be no point playing here. We’d already know who would win the tournament,” Barty said ahead of her opener on Monday against Kazakhstan’s world No.77 Zarina Diyas.
And that’s the beauty of sport. Nothing is ever assured. You have to come out and bring your best every day and do the best that you can.
“I’ve seen my first round is with Zarina and that’s all I’ve literally looked at. I didn’t even bother looking at the rest of the draw.”
Barty is relishing a return to the speedy Flushing Meadows hard courts, where she reached the fourth round for the first time last year and also landed the doubles crown with Coco Vandeweghe.
“I played an incredible fortnight of tennis last year and it’s really nice to be back,” the Queenslander said.
“I actually really like the conditions here in New York.
“When it’s really hot, it can be challenging physically and it changes a little bit from day to night sessions so it can depend a bit on scheduling – where you play and what the conditions are like – but I love playing here.”
After losing her opening match of the American hardcourt swing in Toronto, Barty reached the semi-finals last week in Cincinnati but fell a win short of regaining the world No.1 ranking from Naomi Osaka.
Not that the 23-year-old believes being denied the top seeding will relieve the pressure at all.
“The seeding next to your name doesn’t really matter much at all,” said Barty, who, as top seed, succumbed to unseeded American Alison Riske in the fourth round at Wimbledon.
“I didn’t feel like there was any extra pressure at Wimbledon. For me, it was a career-best tournament – fourth round is certainly nothing to be ashamed of and being able to make second week at another slam was really important.
“After Wimbledon, it was important for me to have two weeks where I didn’t do anything. I didn’t touch a racquet, just to really refresh and relax and knowing that I’d probably go into Toronto and Cincinnati a little bit underdone but knowing there was a view that we wanted to ready for this week here in New York. I feel super relaxed.”
Kyrgios gets go ahead to play at Open
In the men’s draw US Open officials have given Nick Kyrgios the green light to play on as tennis chiefs continue to weigh up whether or not the temperamental talent should be suspended for his latest meltdown.
The ATP is offering no time line around when it will make any decision on Kyrgios’ fate, having announced last week a massive fine of $US113,000 ($167,126) for his spectacular outburst in Cincinnati.
One of the biggest fines in the sport’s history, Kyrgios was slapped with separate penalties for an audible obscenity, ball abuse, verbal abuse towards the umpire, leaving the court and four counts of unsportsmanlike conduct during his explosive second-round loss to Karen Khachanov.
In addition to the fines, the ATP said it was “looking further into what happened during and immediately after the match to see if additional action is warranted under the Player Major Offence section of the code and that could result in an additional fine and/or suspension”.
But with no action taken in eight days since and Kyrgios accepted into the draw for the season’s final grand slam, it appears the governing body for the men’s tour deem his heavy fine punishment enough.
The US Tennis Association also had the power to suspend Kyrgios from the Open, but are happy to have the box-office drawcard in the field.
“We will follow the ATP on this. Not sure what they are planning [or] considering,” a USTA official told AAP.
Seeded 28th and boasting an equal-tour-best two hardcourt titles in 2019, Kyrgios has the chance to make a deep run at Flushing Meadows after receiving an inviting draw.
Kyrgios can’t run into into heavyweights Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or top-seeded titleholder Novak Djokovic until at least the semi-finals with world No.4 Dominic Thiem the biggest name in his quarter.
The dual grand slam quarter-finalist will open against American world No.82 Steve Johnson, with eighth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas the highest-ranked player standing between him and a spot in the last eight.
Should he beat Johnson, Kyrgios will face either Argentine Leonardo Mayer or French wildcard Antoine Hoang in the second round.