Top-ranked Australian tennis player Ashleigh Barty fell by the wayside at the US Open, unable to overcome the power of 89th-ranked qualifier Veronica Cepede Royg of the Dominican Republic, 6-1, 6-2, in the second round Monday night.
Barty, 21, climbed back into the match in the second set with a forehand volley winner that put her on the attack. But Barty’s power game wasn’t enough to overcome her huge serves from Cepede Royg.
“I haven’t been playing quite my best tennis,” Barty said. “She plays a big game. She’s so physical and has a big serve. I just didn’t hit the ball as clean as I would like to.”
After losing the first set, Barty was the stronger of the two players in the second set. She put away a backhand and then broke to lead 4-3. She was up 30-0 on a Cepede Royg return and had the set within her grasp, but lost four of the last five points of the game.
Both players held serve the rest of the way.
Barty had been working to develop a more dynamic forehand and has been using the club almost exclusively on those shots. She said that change worked on Monday night against Cepede Royg, but it might have set her up for another downfall.
“The beauty of this game is when you play against a player that has an aggressive style, it’s one that definitely always helps you because it gives you a little bit more depth to go to your forehand from a stretch there,” Barty said. “But in that instance, it kind of went in my way a little bit.”
Barty seemed disappointed but not upset after the match, which was relatively straightforward for the Dominican Republic.
“I had been working on just kind of working through the string on her backhand and not letting the ball hit my body as much,” Barty said. “She didn’t do that as much today. She just kept hitting that really flat and strong slice so she would hit it straight to my body.”
Barty, the fourth seed in the draw, had been looking forward to returning to Flushing Meadows. She had been defeated in the first round here last year by Mirjana Lucic-Baroni.
“I had that kind of loss last year,” Barty said. “It was the first time I felt very emotional. I know I have come a long way in the last year.”