New York | Brit Miyazaki wins opening match at US Open

Britain’s Lily Miyazaki, who won 3 matches in qualifying for her place in the main draw of the US Open, extended her run to score her first Grand Slam success with an impressive 6-3 6-3 win over the World No 198, Margarita Betova from Russia, on Monday in New York.

Coming into this tournament, I didn’t expect to be at this stage. I am really happy and proud of myself. Playing qualifying helped. I had matches under my belt. I felt comfortable with the conditions. Lily Miyazaki

Her progress in the Big Apple will make a huge financial difference to Miyazaki’s future on the women’s tour because, in addition to rising to just outside the world’s top 150 in the rankings, she is guaranteed $123,000 (£98,600) for reaching the 2nd-round.

Miyazaki said she had been discussing the money with fellow Briton, Jodie Burrage, who plays her 1st-round match on Tuesday.

“I haven’t looked at the prize money breakdown,” she said, before being told exactly what she had earned. “I think the financial side is huge, because obviously tennis is a very expensive sport.

“We travel around a lot. Yeah, maybe now I can travel a bit more with a coach, things like that. Because when I’m playing at the ITF level I tend to travel on my own.”

The 27-year-old, currently ranked 198, was born in Tokyo, and lived in London since she was 10 when her father’s job in finance saw the family move there.

She attended the University of Oklahoma for 5 years, where she studied for a degree in mathematics and a masters in information technology management, and competed on the American college circuit.

Last year, she decided to switch her allegiance from Japan to Great Britain, where she currently is the British No 7.

Her opponent, Betova, is a former World No 41 under her maiden name of Gasaparyan, who has plunged outside the top 100, and the Russian had no real answers to Miyazaki’s game on Monday.

From 3-1 down, the Brit won 5 straight games, targeting the Betova forehand, taking her returns early and playing smartly throughout to pocket the opening set.

With her solid all-round game, Miyazaki’s efforts saw her move ahead in the second and, although Betova saved a match point, the Brit held serve to close out the match with a stunning backhand pass off a drop-shot.

“Coming into this tournament, I didn’t expect to be at this stage,” Miyazaki admitted. “I am really happy and proud of myself. Playing qualifying helped. I had matches under my belt. I felt comfortable with the conditions.”

Born in Japan, Miyazaki answered some questions at the end of her press conference in Japanese, but she is hoping to call on her experience in living in Switzerland when she faces the toughest test of her career against Belinda Bencic, the Swiss No 15 seed and Olympic champion, in round 2.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” she said. “She’s a great player obviously.

“Actually, funny, when I lived in Switzerland, I played her when I was about nine years old and she must have been about seven or eight.

“The good thing is that I have seen her many times and she probably hasn’t seen that much of me,” Miyazaki added.

“I remember, even back then, she was taking the ball so early, half volleying, drive volleying, everything. Yeah, I expect a really tough match.”


Jodie Burrage shares a coach with Lily Miyazaki and has been supporting her friend courtside in New York

LTA.org.uk

Compatriots Katie Boulter and Burrage benefited from generous draws against unseeded opponents, and there are high hopes for Boulter, the British No 1, in New York after she recently reached a career-high ranking of 60.

“I feel like I’ve earned this place,” Boulter said. “I want to keep pushing, and I really feel, like, I’ve got a great chance to do so, as long as I can stay physically fit.”

On Tuesday, Boulter opens her campaign against France’s Diane Parry in the first match on Court 6 at 4pm BST, while Burrage plays Anna Blinkova from Russia on Court 9 at approximately 10pm BST.

Burrage is without her Rugby World Cup boyfriend for her US Open debut, and says sharing long-distant support with him is tricky.

The British No 2 organised her Saturday practice session here so she could watch scrum-half Ben White play in a Rugby World Cup warm-up game against Georgia.

“Yeah, it’s a bit of carnage right now,” laughed the Nottingham finalist. “I wish he could be here, and they won, and he wishes I could be there. But he’s got a World Cup coming up and being here at a Grand Slam it’s pretty good. We’re both very very excited.”

Burrage revealed that White, who is joining Toulon after London Irish went bust, is not helping her diet.

“He eats whatever he wants,” she said. “He is always trying to put on weight and I am just like: ‘Don’t buy it! Don’t have it in the house!’ And he pretty much smashes me in every fitness we do!”

Burrage watched her friend Miyazaki when she came through the final round of qualifying while Taylor Swift songs blared out over the tannoy.

“It definitely feels a bit surreal, and Flushing Meadows is very different from Wimbledon,” Burrage said at the time. “It’s madness out there but it’s great fun.

“It’s nice when you are friends you can enjoy success with them and hopefully, next week, we can do some damage in the main draw.”

Miyazaki had to extend her New York hotel stay after qualifying for her first overseas Grand Slam.

“I was supposed to check out today!” she said. “Obviously I am really happy. It feels great to qualify here.

“Playing Wimbledon last year was amazing. But as a wild-card, I don’t know if you truly believe like you belong.

“I think this time qualifying is giving me a lot of confidence, and, hopefully, I can carry this momentum.”

So far she is doing really well and is eying Bencic in round 2.


Katie Boulter, seen here at a practice session ahead of the US Open, is in action on Tuesday against Diane Parry

© Clive Brunskill/Getty Images



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