The great absences of the 2020 United States Open, the Australian Ashleigh Barty, the Canadian Bianca Andreescu, along with the Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka, come this year to the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center with the sole objective of achieving the title and snatching the crown the current champion, the Japanese Naomi Osaka.
Although Andreescu is the only one of the three who already knows how to win the last Grand Slam tournament of the season, she kept it in 2019 being the great revelation and surprise when she made her debut at age 19, Barty, the number one of the world, and Sabalenka, who follows, come in better shape to the fight for the women’s title.
Without the American Serena Williams, 23 Grand Slam titles in the tournament, due to a muscle injury in her right leg, Flushing Meadows is without the substitute that will capture all the interest and enthusiasm generated by the American champion.
Top-ranked Barty, 25, returns to New York, winning his second major title at Wimbledon and adding the hardcourt title at Cincinnati’s WTA 1000 in his final event in preparation for the Open, which he will play for the sixth time.
“It feels like a long time since I came back to New York,” Barty said. “This week is going to be exciting. There will be fans in the stands. That will bring a lot of energy to this tournament. This is a tournament that thrives on energy. I can’t wait to get started. “
He chose not to play the US Open because he did not leave Australia during the coronavirus pandemic last year and said he did not even watch the tournament due to the time difference.
Barty mostly relaxed at home before resuming his training in October.
She is now immersed in a month-long road trip, not having returned to Australia since arriving in the United States for the Miami hardcourt event in March, where she beat Sabalenka and Andreescu for one of her five titles this season.
“I think he’s had an amazing year. It’s really great to see someone play so consistently,” admitted Osaka, the current Open champion and world number three.
Osaka, who now lives in California, also admires the mental strength of Barty, who has not been home since the Australian Open and his concentration remains high.
“I am not the type of person who could do that. It is really incredible that she is at the level that she has reached, being an example for the sport of tennis,” said Osaka, who could only face Barty if they both reach the final.
The one that he could face before, in the semifinals, would be Sabalenka, 23, who appears to play the fourth Open and has never made it past the fourth round in New York.
Sabalenka, who possesses tennis of great physical power, fell in the second round last year, showing a great lack of confidence when she reached the important tournaments.
But conversations with his sports psychologist have helped him. She had her best result in a major tournament reaching the semi-finals at Wimbledon before being overtaken by Czech Karolina Pliskova.
While Sabalenka says she has worked with the psychologist for five years, she explains: “Only now, am I starting to be honest with her about the Grand Slams, and maybe I’m starting to be more open with her, acknowledging my problems at the Grand Slams, which I was actually afraid of something. “
Pliskova, a finalist in the 2016 edition, is the fourth seed, and the 2019 semifinalist, 26-year-old Ukrainian Elina Svitolina, is fifth.
Behind them is Andreescu, who has been plagued by injuries since his victory in New York and has not made it past the second round of a Slam since.
“I got goosebumps when I walked into Armstrong (Stadium) on day one. It just brought me back to 2019. It’s good to have those feelings going into a tournament,” said Andreescu, 21. “So I feel good and healthy, which I think is great.”
Of the rest of the women’s team, the Polish Iga Swiatek, 23, is the seventh seed, and in her third open she will seek to overcome the third round, her best classification and if she reaches the quarterfinals she could face Barty.
The Czech Barbora Krejcikova, 25, current champion of Roland Garros, reaches her first Open as an eighth favorite and in the fourth round could face the Spanish Garbine Muguruza, 27, the ninth seed, who is again the great hope of Spanish women’s tennis, if she arrives with her best inspiration at Flushing Meadows, which is one of her pending subjects. EFE