NEW YORK – About the only problems No. 1 seed Ash Barty and other top players encountered at the U.S. Open came in the delays trying to get to Flushing Meadows in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida’s remnants blowing through the Northeast a night earlier.
Barty, a two-time major champion including at Wimbledon in July, Tokyo 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 won in two sets to get to the third round.
Advancing in straight sets in men’s play during the day session: Summer Games gold medalist and 2020 U.S. Open runner-up Alexander Zverev and No. 22 seed Reilly Opelka of the U.S.
The most-anticipated match on the schedule was to come at night, when No. 1 Novak Djokovic took his 22-match Grand Slam winning streak into Arthur Ashe Stadium against 121st-ranked Tallon Griekspoor of the Netherlands. Djokovic is trying to complete the first calendar-year Grand Slam in men’s tennis since Rod Laver in 1969 and is bidding to break the men’s mark of 20 career major titles he shares with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
With the sun out and nary a cloud around, play in second-round matches on the outer courts was pushed back from 11 a.m. to noon to allow the U.S. Tennis Association time to clean up downed tree branches and other scattered debris and make sure everything was ready for competition on Day 4 of the year’s last Grand Slam tournament.
Once all was ready to go, it was just a matter of players’ transportation navigating traffic delays caused by road closures and vehicles that were abandoned overnight; a trip from Manhattan to Queens that normally might take 30-45 minutes took 1 1/2 hours or longer for some.
“We had to do a full assessment of the grounds and making sure the courts were playable and that Hawk-Eye (electronic line-calling) would function,” USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier said.
He said that while the forecast called for heavy rain Wednesday night, New York police did not advise the USTA to cancel the evening session during a routine twice-daily briefing.
Eventually, the National Weather Service office in New York declared flash flood emergencies in the region, subway stations and tracks became so flooded that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority suspended all service and New York City put in place a travel ban until 5 a.m. Thursday for all non-emergency vehicles.
“Trying to grasp what was happening here on-site was quite unbelievable, and I know that there has been a lot of flash flooding and a lot of people in trouble. Hopefully a lot of people from site got home safely, and New Yorkers in general were able to get home, because it was quite a wild storm. It did wreak some havoc; obviously there was a later start today, I think, because of, obviously, the damage to the site,” Barty said.
“It took us a while to get in this morning, but we kind of allowed for that time,” she added, “expecting there would be a little bit more of an issue than just a normal commute coming in.”
She delivered 11 aces and accumulated 19 break points, converting five, on the way to a 6-1, 7-5 win against 18-year-old Tauson of Denmark.
The only seeded woman to exit in the afternoon was No. 24 Paula Badosa, who was eliminated by Varvara Gracheva 6-4, 6-4.