US Open: Barty, Rodionova, Tomljanovic advance
Wins for Ash Barty, Arina Rodionova and Ajla Tomljanovic have highlighted a stellar opening day of the US Open for Australia's women.
Australia’s women went a perfect three-from-three on Day 1 of the US Open in New York.
Ash Barty, Arina Rodionova and Ajla Tomljanovic all sealed places in the second round of the year’s final Grand Slam event on Monday with equally impressive victories.
Barty scored a resounding 4-6 6-0 6-1 win over No.21 seed Ana Konjuh, who reached last year’s US Open quarterfinals.
In Barty’s first appearance at Flushing Meadows since 2014, the 21-year-old Queenslander will next face Aliaksandra Sasnovich for a place in the last 32.
In further evidence of her impressive maturity, the 21-year-old held her nerve after falling behind 4-0 in the opening set before winning 16 of the last 19 games against Konjuh.
“Even though it was 4-0 pretty quickly, I knew all I needed to do was settle and get myself into the match,” Barty said.
“There was still a long way to go and I knew that once I could find my first serve and get myself into the point and extend the points a little bit, it was hopefully going to work out in my favour.”
Earlier on Monday, Tomljanovic, playing on an injury-protected ranking, beat Swede Johanna Larsson 7-5 6-4 in her first Grand Slam outing since the French Open.
The Croatian-born former top-50 player next faces Serbian Aleksandra Krunic, a surprise 4-6 6-3 6-4 winner over No.7 seed Johanna Konta, who made the Wimbledon semifinals.
Tomljanovic was overjoyed after putting a depressing run with injury behind her to land her first victory at a major in more than two years.
“Oh my god, that felt really good,” the 24-year-old said.
“Even though any win has been really good, even in the Challengers, this felt extra special as it is back at the level where I want to be. Even though I still have a long way to go, it feels like the work is paying off.
“I have a lot to improve on. It is going in the right direction. I like the stuff I am working on in practice. I am doing well in matches but I still have a way to go.
“But just looking back at where I was two months, three months ago, I am just really happy with the progress.”
Meanwhile, Rodionova – the first Aussie through to the second round – was savouring another milestone after continuing her breakout season.
Australia’s only first-round Wimbledon winner last month backed that up to advance with a 7-5 7-5 victory over Dutchwoman Richel Hogenkamp.
She next faces Greece’s Maria Sakkari for a place in the third round of a major tournament for the first time.
Rodionova rallied from an early service break down to post her maiden main-draw win at Flushing Meadows, six weeks after achieving the same feat at The All England Club.
“I didn’t feel that much pressure when I was down a break because I have a strong return and I knew I can break back once or twice a set,” she said.
“It was an interesting match because it was tough with the wind, so we both weren’t serving great today.
“Obviously the nerves also kicked in a bit; first round, it’s quite tough to play the first match, you never know what’s going to happen. I’m really glad it finished my way.”
The victory guaranteed Australia’s wildcard playoff winner a career-high ranking inside the world’s top 120, as she edges closer to securing direct entry into the slams for the first time.
“This win really helps me mentally to understand that I belong where I want to reach, top 100, because I’ve had quite a few wins this year against top-100 girls,” Rodionova said.
“I’m just gaining confidence match by match.”
The 27-year-old credits her rise to being in peak physical condition after battling injuries for much of her career.
“I actually saw the statistic yesterday that the average age in the top 100 is 27.4,” Rodionova said.
“More experience probably helps and you start to understand your body a bit more, what you should do how you should train.
“But now that I’m injury free at moment it obviously helps around the court. I feel great. I’m moving well and feel I’m in my prime time at the moment.”