Media playback is not supported on this device No par for Ashleigh Barty at US Open
Australian Open champion Ashleigh Barty reached the fourth round of the US Open for the first time at Flushing Meadows.
Barty, ranked 41st in the world, was one game away from victory against Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka in a match marred by injuries.
But Sabalenka needed treatment to a right shoulder injury, which she later revealed was the result of a “slap”.
Barty was eventually beaten 6-3 4-6 6-4 in two hours and 22 minutes on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
She said: “She slapped me in the face, so I put my hand up to help her out, but it happened so fast. I’m fine with it and I wish her a speedy recovery.”
The 19-year-old Barty has been one of the most promising players of the past decade but had fallen to a career-high of 69th in the world after a string of injuries between 2012 and 2014.
She returned to form in 2015 and defeated Angelique Kerber in the Australian Open final in January.
“It means the world to me, honestly,” Barty said. “I struggled with injuries for so long, but for it to happen now means everything to me.”
Barty was too good for world number four Angelique Kerber (left) in the Australian Open final
The match between Sabalenka and Barty was one of the best played at the US Open in recent years.
Both players scored 20 winners in the deciding set but were unable to establish any momentum as the two struggled to get their shots on target.
Barty held her first match point in the eighth game but Sabalenka eventually closed out the match.
The win moves the world number 42 on to 14th in the rankings but she is still behind Sabalenka, world number three Simona Halep and eighth-ranked Garbine Muguruza.