Both Katie Boulter and Heather Watson won their opening matches in the US Open qualifying competition in New York on Wednesday, bringing them a step closer to a place in the main draw.
30-year old Watson, who is ranked 161 these days, beat Marina Melnikova from Russia, 6-1 6-0, in just 50 minutes on Court 10, while British compatriot Boulter followed on the same court to defeat France’s Fiona Ferro, 6-2 6-3, in an hour 15 minutes.
Both Brits lost in the 1st-round of the main draw at Flushing Meadows last year and have arrived at the final major of the year in good form after excellent runs at Wimbledon.
Watson, a former British No 1, had faced Melnikova in Qatar earlier this year, where she lost in straight sets, but she broke the Russian 5 times on this occasion during a one-sided contest.
After Melnikova held her first service game, Watson proceeded to win the next 11 in a row to move two victories away from appearing in the US Open main draw for an 11th time.
This is the first year since 2019 that Watson has had to try to qualify for the main draw and, against Melnikova, ranked 188, she dominated to win 52 of the 78 points played in the match.
Watson next takes on another Russian, Vitalia Diatchenko, who dispatched Suzan Lamens from the Netherlands, 6-1 7-5.
Boulter was up on Court 10 immediately after Watson, and moved into an early 4-0 lead before Ferro avoided a first-set bagel, but it did not stop the 26-year old World No 129 take the opener.
The British No 3 went 5-0 up in the second set before conceding a couple of breaks back as she twice failed to serve out the match.
She regrouped, though, to break Ferro for a 6th time to secure her win, ultimately making light work of her opening match.
Boulter’s next test is American wild-card Ashlyn Krueger, who found her way past Mexico’s Renata Zarazua, 5-7 7-5 6-0.
Compatriots Jodie Burrage, Sonay Kartal, and Lily Miyazaki, however, lost in their opening matches on Wednesday.
23-year old Burrage, the British No 4, lost 6-3 6-4 to American Caty McNally, while 20-year-old Kartal, the British No 8, who was seeking to qualify for a major for the first time, fell to a 7-6(5) 7-6(5) loss to Spain’s Marina Bassols Ribera, and 26-year old Miyazaki, the British No 7, went down 7-5 6-3 to another Spaniard, Georgina Garcia Perez.
Elsewhere, former US Open semi-finalist Yanina Wickmayer from Belgium mades a winning return in her 1st-round, beating Russia’s Anastasiya Komardina, 6-2 6-2.
Thirteen years ago, Wickmayer, then just 19 years old, bulldozed through the US Open draw to reach the Last 8.
She announced her pregnancy in late 2020, gave birth to a daughter, Luana, last April, returning to the tour in February and reaching the 2nd-round at Wimbledon.
Now into the 2nd-round of US Open qualifying, she will face No 22 seed Daria Snigur from Ukraine, who was a 7-6(4) 6-1 winner over France’s Tessah Andrianjafitrimo.
A day after 17-year-old talented Czechs Linda Noskova and Linda Fruhvirtova won their opening round matches, their 16-year-old compatriot did the same, when Sara Bejlek, one-half of the winning junior girls’ doubles team at Roland Garros this spring, earned an impressive 6-4 1-6 6-4 win over former Top 10 player Kristina Mladenovic of France.
What Bejlek lacks in height at 5 foot 2 inches, she makes up for in feisty hustle.
In her first-ever professional tournament on US soil, Bejlek will next face Australia’s Priscilla Hon for a spot in the final qualifying round.
Hon, playing her first US Open in 3 years, came from a set down to beat American Asia Muhammad in her 1st-round, 2-6 6-3 6-4.