It was a day of rain in New York on Wednesday, fully justifying the massive investment the USTA has made in the two retractable roofs on Arthur Ashe and Louis Armstrong Stadiums that guarantee US Open play for its worldwide audience and fans.
I'm really happy how I was able to respond in the 5-4 game and played a really clean tiebreak, which is always good. Ashleigh Barty
Britain’s Johanna Konta did make it out onto the Grandstand court, but quickly retreated indoors as the rain started again.
As a result of the weather, the packed schedule for Day 3 was whittled down, with a majority of matches re-scheduled for Thursday as play was focused on the two main show courts where Ashleigh Barty and Serena Williams were among the winners.
No 2 seed Barty trailed in the second set before closing out a 6-2 7-6(2) victory over American Lauren Davis in the opening night session match on Armstrong; while earlier in the day Elina Svitolina defeated two-time US Open champion Venus Williams in straight sets to reach the last 32 in Flushing Meadows for the 5th consecutive year in a match highlighted by the American’s unexpected coffee order after the first set.
“Today was a great match,” said Venus Williams, with a sunny outlook even after losing to Svitolina. “It was well-contested and it was great to have the crowd behind me. It was just a really magical atmosphere.
“I did a lot of things right today. A lot of great things to build on.”
Barty needed more than two hours to put the World No 73 Davis away in a tense match played under the closed roof and lights of Armstrong Stadium.
“When I saw it was raining today, I was pretty happy I was on this beautiful court with the roof,” she said.
“It’s been an incredible development of this tournament and I’m just looking forward to my next match.”
That will be against 30th-seeded Maria Sakkari or Peng Shuai, who must resume on Thursday after their second-round clash was suspended at 1-1 in the opening set.
Unlike her tournament opener against Zarina Diyas, or three of her matches in Cincinnati where she dropped the first set, Barty jumped out of the blocks on Wednesday night.
Davis pushed then-World No 1 Simona Halep to the brink during the longest women’s match in Australian Open history last year, but Barty barely gave her a sniff in the first set, breaking the American on her first service game and then pocketing the set when Davis double-faulted trying to stay in it.
The French Open champion saved a set point in the second, and rallied from 5-3 down, to score a straight sets victory.
After coming from a set down in her opening round against Kazakhstan’s Diyas, Barty wasn’t tasked with a complete comeback in the second round, as she broke Davis in each of her first two service games to ease to a one-set lead.
The American, known for her flair for the dramatic in Grand Slam matches, would not be easily beaten, having pushed Halep and upsetting defending champion Angelique Kerber at this year’s Wimbledon.
The first to get to break point in the second set, Davis converted to lead 3-2 and, after saving 3 against her own serve, consolidated for a 4-2 lead.
She got to set point as she attempted to serve for a decider in the 10th game, only to see Barty battle back for parity.
“I was creating opportunities in the second set,” the Aussie said in her post-match media call. “I just couldn’t take advantage of them on Lauren’s serve.
“I’m really happy how I was able to respond in the 5-4 game and played a really clean tiebreak, which is always good.”
The American saved 3 match points in the 12th game to force the former World No 1 to clinch the match in the tiebreak.
Barty is through to Round 3 for the 6th consecutive time at a Grand Slam, demonstrating consistency in her ability to win without playing her best tennis at times, as she did in what she called a ‘scrappy’ Cincinnati semi-final run two weeks ago.
“It was a little bit better [tonight],” she said, comparing her performances in the first two rounds in New York.
“There were parts of my game that were better. There were parts of my game that I still want to clean up. There’s always room for improvement every single match that you play.
“I think that’s the beauty of this sport: now that I’m still alive in the tournament, I get an opportunity to do that in my next round.”
The win was Barty’s 30th career Grand Slam victory, against 19 losses, and it could have been much more straightforward had the Australian converted more than 4 of her 18 break points on Davis’ serve.
“I knew I was doing the right things. It was about execution. It’s difficult conditions out here,” Barty said after stepping up in the tiebreak.
“Very happy to come through and be able to play a really good tiebreak like that.”
Victory improved Barty’s Grand Slam record to 16-2 in 2019 and edged the Aussie to within a win of matching her career-best run in New York last year.
The pair had played each other in juniors at the first round of the Australian Open in 2011 when Davis, then aged 17, was competing in her last junior tournament before joining the main tour, and 14-year-old Barty was just starting out.
Barty lost 6-0 6-3 that day, but a lot has happened since then, including the Australian’s career break to play cricket before roaring up the rankings.
This time around, on Davis’ home turf, Barty had the answers.
In other women’s singles matches, third seed Karolina Pliskova advanced with a 6-1 6-4 win over Mariam Bolkvadze.
The 2016 finalist was first off the court on Wednesday with her victory over the Georgian, while Madison Keys, the American 2017 runner-up, won 11 of the last 12 games to defeat China’s Zhu Lin, 6-4 6-1.