After thousand of fans were left stranded at Flushing Meadows as a result of the flash floods on Wednesday in New York, Daniel Zausner, the Chief Operating Officer of the USTA, said they were not adequately prepared for the large amount of rain the remnants of Hurricane Ida dumped on the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
Today was tricky, I think, to navigate through that second set and just trust myself and hit out. Being able to respond straightaway was a big part of that match. Just refocusing, and narrowing my focus, and remembering what I needed to do to win the match as opposed to getting flat and passive, where I was letting her control a little bit too much. Ash Barty
Tennis was the least of the worries for most New Yorkers, as at least 12 people were killed in the city as the downpours overwhelmed streets and subway stations, and several died when their basement apartments were flooded.
“We were talking about it this morning … would we do anything differently with the decisions and the answer simply is no right now,” Zausner said in an interview with ESPN’s Chris McKendry on Thursday. “And if we get more information … we will reevaluate it and will know for the next time.
“I am sure there are subtle things along the way that we could always do better, we’re not perfect, but we kept the fans safe and secure.”
While it had rained sporadically throughout the day, the heavy rainfall started in the area just as the evening sessions began in Arthur Ashe and Louis Armstrong stadiums, around 7.30 p.m.
The USTA invited fans to shelter inside the stadiums, which they deemed to be the safest options.
Around 10 pm, a notice flashed on the video boards alerting the crowd that service on the 7 subway line and the Long Island Railroad had been suspended until further notice but, fortunately, these resumed some time later enabling spectators to get home.
With the sun out and not a cloud in sight on Thursday, play in second-round matches on the outer courts was pushed back from 11 am until noon to allow staff time to clean up downed tree branches and other scattered debris in preparation for play on Day 4 of the year’s last Grand Slam tournament.
Top seed Ash Barty advanced, alongside Olympic gold medalist Belinda Bencic, double Wimbledon title-winner Petra Kvitova, and other seeded women, including No 14 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, No 17 Maria Sakkari, No 23 Jessica Pegula and No 28 Anett Kontaveit, all winning in straight sets to reach the 3rd round.
Fourth-seeded Karolina Pliskova defeated American Amanda Anisimova, 7-5 6-7(5) 7-6 (7), saving a match point and serving 24 aces in the process, apparently the most in a US Open women’s match.
No 7 seed Swiatek of Poland was also in peril before she overcame Fiona Ferro of France, 3-6 7-6(3) 6-0, in just over 2 hours of topsy-turvy play.
At night, 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu improved her tournament record to 9-0 by defeating Lauren Davis, 6-4 6-4.
The only seeded women to exit in the afternoon were No 24 Paula Badosa from Spain, who was eliminated by Russia’s Varvara Gracheva, 6-4 6-4, while Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic moved on with another over Petra Martic, the No 30 seed from Croatia, 7-6(6) 6-4.
Barty said her team allowed for extra time to arrive at the site ahead of her match against Clara Tauson on Ashe.
“It was quite a wild storm,” Barty said after her match. “It did wreak some havoc, obviously there was a later start today, I think, because of, obviously, the damage to the site.
“But for us, it took us a while to get in this morning, but we kind of allowed for that time, expecting there would be a little bit more of an issue than just a normal commute coming in.
“I think we were kind of prepared for it, in a way, as best we could be, and, yeah, we just kind of got on with it.”
In the bright sunshine, Barty did just that, delivering 11 aces and accumulating 19 break points, converting 5, on the way to her 6-1 7-5 win over 18-year-old Clara Tauson of Denmark.
The Aussie had to stave off a late challenge from the Dane but struck 33 winners which well outpaced Tauson’s total of 14, and the teenager was also undone by 25 unforced errors during just the second US Open main-draw match of her career.
“Today was tricky, I think, to navigate through that second set and just trust myself and hit out,” Barty said in her post-match press conference. “Being able to respond straightaway was a big part of that match.
“Just refocusing, and narrowing my focus, and remembering what I needed to do to win the match as opposed to getting flat and passive, where I was letting her control a little bit too much.”
With no seeded players remaining in Barty’s potential path to a first US Open quarter-final, the World No 1 will face 2020 US Open quarter-finalist Shelby Rogers of the United States in her next match, who was a 7-5 6-2 winner over Croatia’s Sorana Cirstea.
Pliskova’s narrow escape came in a match of pure first-strike tennis and of the smallest of margins, with no breaks of serve after an opening exchange of 3 in the opening set.
Pliskova held serve in 17 of her 18 service games, while Anisimova held in 16 of her 18, and both women served above 70% and hit their spots off the ground.
“I thought without my serve, tonight would not be possible,” Pliskova said. “I suppose, also, because I put so much pressure on my serve with her, I think she also needed to serve this way.
“I thought we kind of pushed each other with the serve, so that’s why we hold.
“For women’s tennis, normally there is break, break, break, break. That’s quite impressive I think.”
After 2 hours and 21 minutes, Pliskova roared as Anisimova hit her 37th unforced error to end a sparkling contest, with the Czech finishing with 39 winners to 22 unforced errors against the American’s 44 winners.
Pliskova will now face Tomljanovic in the third round.
Swiatek found herself with her back against the wall against Ferro, who took the opening set, but the Pole showed her mettle with a stunning inside-out forehand struck down the line to give her a 5-2 lead in the second set tiebreak, and she eased home from there, drawing a handful of errors from Ferro to level and then raced through the 3rd set to claim the come-back win.
“For sure, it was a tough match,” the No 7 seed told the media. “I think I didn’t start it properly, because I felt like I couldn’t properly feel my legs. But it’s not the first time, so I’m trying to work on that.
“In the second set, I loosened up a little bit, kind of changed tactics.”
Another tough battle likely awaits Swiatek in the 3rd round where she faces No 28 seed Anett Kontaveit of Estonia, last week’s champion in Cleveland, who powered through a difficult encounter with Montreal finalist Jil Teichmann of Switzerland, 6-4 6-1.
Kontaveit was never broken in her 70-minute victory over the rising World No 44 Swiss.
Another Swiss, Bencic, brushed aside the Italian Martina Trevisan, 6-3 6-1, to set up a meeting with American Jessica Pegula, who beat Japan’s Misaki Doi, 6-3 6-2, while Belgian Greet Minnen defeated Liudmila Samsonova from Russia, 6-4 6-4, to play Andreescu.
Kvitova took out fellow Czech left-hander Kristyna Pliskova, 7-6(4) 6-2, and will meet Greek Maria Sakkari, the 17th seed, who defeated another Czech, Katerina Siniakova, 6-4 6-2.
In the lower half of the draw, Angelique Kerber beat Ukraine’s Anhelina Kalinina in straight sets to set up a meeting with 2017 champion Sloane Stephens.
The German needed to wait an extra day to get her second-round match off the ground, as the terrible weather conditions on Wednesday night made playing her match untenable, but the 16th seed shook off the changes with ease, as the former World No 1 zipped past Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine, 6-3 6-2, in just over an hour, to reach the 3rd round in New York for the 9th time in her career.
The 3-time major champion had all the answers, with 23 winners to just 14 unforced errors, and a break point conversion rate of 5-of-6.
“I played good today, I think,” said Kerber. “I knew [she is] always a tough opponent.
“I lost against her in Paris this year, so I was prepared what to expect. I was focusing from the first point. I think that I was really aggressive today, and I think that was the key for me, for the match today.”
It will be an intriguing matchup between the 2016 US Open winner, Kerber, and Stephens, the 2017 champion.