Ash Barty Survives Rocky Start To Win U.S. Grand Slam Opener
Ashleigh Barty has survived a scare to safely progress to the second round of the US Open in New York.
Australia's world No.2 had to pull out all the stops before battling past dogged Kazakh Zarina Diyas 1-6 6-3 6-2 on Monday.
Barty used her trusty trademark serve to drag herself out of a big hole and set up a date on Wednesday with either unseeded American Lauren Davis or Swedish qualifier Johanna Larsson.
"I just had to start with my serve," the French Open champion said after finishing with eight aces and landing 83 percent of her first deliveries.
"I really wasn't giving myself enough chances on serve. I don't know what the percentage was in the first set ... but it wasn't good.
"(I had to) go back to the basics, start again and try to figure it out."
Opening tournament proceedings on Arthur Ashe Stadium, Barty made a terrible start, falling behind 5-0 in 20 minutes after struggling to find her rhythm.
Her backhand was particularly off, a glut of errors from that wing gifting Diyas the first break of the match in the second game.
A Barty double-fault and wild forehand handed Diyas the double break before the second seed finally got on the scoreboard.
But Barty's 19th unforced error, another overcooked forehand, left Australia's big title hope down a set inside half an hour.
Furious with herself, Barty emerged a different player in the second set, bludgeoning a succession of winners to work her way back into the contest.
It took her eight games, though, to break down Diyas.
But once she did Barty sealed the second set with a signature ace down the middle to get back on level terms.
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She gained two more breaks in the third set to advance after a tough one-hour, 42-minute work-out.
"Zarina was able to put it in difficult positions even off my slice," Barty said.
"It was about trying to do it regularly and put her under pressure."
Despite the shaky start, the 23-year-old said it was a thrill to return to Arthur Ashe Stadium following her breakthrough doubles triumph last year with CoCo Vandeweghe.
"It was a bit bizarre. We walked out here on practice the other day and some good memories came floating back," Barty said.
"We are really pleased with the way we were able to solve this riddle today, figure it out and progress to the second round."
While Barty is through, fellow Australians Samantha Stosur, Daria Gavrilova and Priscilla Hon all fell at the first hurdle.
Champion in 2011, 35-year-old Stosur needed a wildcard into her 15th Open and bombed out in 63 minutes, a 6-1 6-3 loser against Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova.
Gavrilova, who continues to battle a debilitating foot injury, ended the 2019 grand slam season without a win following a 6-3 6-4 loss to Frenchwoman Fiona Ferro.
Hon, a lucky loser from qualifying, had to settle for a $US58,000 ($A85,500) pay day after succumbing 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 to Russian Margarita Gasparyan.
Alex de Minaur is the only Australian man playing on Monday, up against Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert.