The final Slam of 2019 is underway! Main draw action at the US Open began on Monday in New York. It was a surprising day of non-carnage with just two seeds exiting the tournament and all of the top 10 seeds in action advancing to the second round. Read on for a review of day 1 in New York including coverage of the biggest upset by seeding where Kristina Mladenovic defeated the number 14 seed, Angelique Kerber.
Match reviews 🎾
(16) Johanna Konta d. Daria Kasatkina, 6-1 4-6 6-2
Johanna Konta snapped a three match losing streak with a 6-1 4-6 6-2 win over Daria Kasatkina. Konta lost her way in the second set in a sea of errors as she grew increasingly frustrated at the umpire’s decisions on overrules. It was feeling rather reminiscent of Konta’s match in Cincy against Rebecca Peterson where she lost her focus late in the third set at an umpiring decision.
On this occasion, Konta managed to reset in the decider. The Brit had a helping hand from Kasatkina who hit 12 double faults including back-to-back to finish the match. There are positives for Kasatkina compared to the start of the year but she has to be bolder and play with a more consistent gameplan if she’s fully going to turn this slump around. Easier said than done. Dasha ends 2019 with a 1-4 W-L record at the Slams 😢.
(2) Ash Barty d. Zarina Diyas, 1-6 6-3 6-2
In the first match on Arthur Ashe Stadium, Ash Barty overcame a ragged start to beat Zarina Diyas in three sets. Barty had an absolute shocker in the first set. It’s one of the worst sets i’ve seen her play in a long time! Barty landed just a quarter of her first serves in play and was spraying balls all over the court against an energised, Diyas. I was surprised how defensive Barty was in her court position. Diyas was putting a lot of pressure on and Barty was clearly not feeling her game early on. It got me thinking whether Ash had played on Ashe aside from the doubles final last year?
Similar to the match in Cincy earlier this month against Maria Sakkari, Barty completely turned the match around on serve as she dropped just nine points behind it in the final two sets. Diyas generally handled Barty’s backhand slice quite well, but increasingly missed a lot of volleys at the net with a mixture of poor execution and Barty putting the ball in awkward spots.
Not a stellar performance from Barty by any means but she did what she had to do and managed to find her game in time to avoid an early exit. Fun fact – my US Open champ has lost on the first day for the last two years. The hat-trick wasn’t far off 😂.
Kristina Mladenovic d. (14) Angelique Kerber, 7-5 0-6 6-4
In a match between two players who had lost their last three matches on tour, it was Kristina Mladenovic who snapped the streak and scored the biggest “upset” of day 1, beating Angelique Kerber. After a bagel second set where she appeared to be bothered by her back, Mladenovic reset in the decider where she constructed points thoughtfully. The Frenchwoman hit high-bouncing balls to the Kerber backhand and then tried to manoeuvre the points onto her forehand. Kerber played a loose service game at 4-4 in the decider as Mladenovic was able to count on her first serve to seal the victory.
I thought Kerber played an OK match and she really gave it some welly. As I wrote in Cincy, it’s just not clicking right now and she doesn’t seem to have that spark. Is it just me or is the US Open playing slowwwww?! I didn’t feel the court/conditions suited Kerber at all. Mladenovic advances to an all-Frenchie second rounder against Fiona Ferro.
Seeded upsets 😲
Aside from Mladenovic-Kerber, the only other upset on Day 1 came in the one of the first matches of the day as Ons Jabeur beat the number 27 seed, Caroline Garcia, 7-6(8) 6-2. Not a surprise at all as Garcia has now lost her last four matches on tour.
While I was sleeping… 😴
The hotly anticipated Serena-Maria clash was over in less than an hour as Serena Williams continued her dominance over Maria Sharapova with a 6-1 6-1 victory.
Stat watch 🔢
Not only did Jo Konta win her first match since Wimbledon, it was also her first win at the US Open since 2016 after back-to-back first round losses at Flushing Meadows.
Press highlights 📰
Angelique Kerber’s response to finding a new coach in press (via WTA Insider).
Recommended reading 📚
My guide to visiting the US Open from three years ago.
Recommended listening 🎧
The No Challenges Remaining podcast is always an enjoyable listen for their Slam previews.
Tomorrow’s OOP ⭐
The top half of the women’s draw will be played on Tuesday. My two favourite matches of the day will be first and last up – Muguruza vs. Riske opens up the Grandstand schedule at 11am local time, while Sabalenka vs. Azarenka headlines the night session on the Louis Armstrong stadium.