New York | Dart wins US Open QR1 but Watson falls at first hurdle

Of the 3 British women contesting for a place in the main draw of the US Open this week, only Harriet Dart has made it into the 2nd-round of qualifying so far, with Heather Watson falling at the first hurdle and Lily Miyazaki yet to play her opener.

Dart, the British No 4, impressively beat Chloe Paquet, 3-6 6-4 6-1, having trailed the Frenchwoman by a set and an early break.

She must win 2 more matches this week to qualify for the final Grand Slam event of the year, which starts in New York on Monday.

The 27-year old, who reached the US Open 2nd-round last year, beating World No 9, Daria Kasatkina from Russia, in the first, next will face World No 86 Yanina Wickmayer, the 3rd seed, after the Belgian made it past Katherine Sebov of Canada, 6-7(3) 7-5 6-2.

A former semi-finalist, 33-year old Wickmayer trailed Sebov by a set and 3-5, and was 2 points from defeat, before she battled back over 2 hours and 44 minutes to take the win.

Fourteen years after reaching the US Open semi-finals as a teenager, and 2 years after giving birth to daughter Luana, Wickmayer is on a roll this year, returning to the Top 100 last month after a gap of nearly 5 years since reaching the Last 4 in Warsaw, her first tour-level semi-final since Guangzhou 2017.

She also has 2 ITF W100 titles to her name in 2023, and her win over Sebov took her season record to 42-14.

Watson, the British No 3, faced Ukraine’s Dayana Yastremska, the 12th seed in qualifying, but bowed out, 6-3 6-2.

The 31-year old was looking to play in the Flushing Meadows main draw for the 11th time in the past 13 years, but Yastremska continued her recent strong form to advance, extending her winning streak to 6 matches with an efficient win.

The former World No 21 has endured lean results over the past year, but 2 weeks ago collected her first title in 4 years at the Kozerki WTA 125.

The Ukrainian was imperious against Watson, slamming 33 winners, including 5 aces, to the Brit’s 11, and saving all 5 break points she faced.

While Miyazaki, the British No 7, waits to take on Daria Snigur from Ukraine on Wednesday, Katie Swan, the British No 5, also had a place in qualifying, but pulled out last week because a back injury recurred.

The 3rd and final round of qualifying takes place on Friday, determining which 16 women will progress into the main draw, where Britain’s Katie Boulter and Jodie Burrage have earned direct entry on the basis of their rankings inside the world’s top 100.

Eugenie Bouchard, a former World No 5, defeated American wild-card Katherine Hui in straight sets to advance to round 2 of US Open qualifying on Day 1 in New York

Meanwhile, Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard is set to face Yastremska, yet again, in the 2nd-qualifying round, after controversy over ‘doper’ comments against the Ukrainian.

Bouchard, a former World No 5 who is currently ranked 216, defeated American wild-card entrant Katherine Hui, 6-2 6-3, in her opening match on Tuesday.

The Canadian and the Ukrainian are now gearing up for their second meeting of the season at the US Open, following their maiden clash in the opening round of the Madrid Open in April that resulted in controversy.

In that match, Bouchard upset Yastremska with a 6-7(6) 6-2 6-2 come-back win, her first victory at the Madrid Open since her 2017 quarter-final appearance there, when the Canadian notably defeated Russian Maria Sharapova in the 2nd-round, who was returning to the tour after her doping suspension.

Following her Madrid win over Yastremska, the 2014 Wimbledon runner-up took a swipe at both Sharapova and the Ukrainian by mentioning Yastremska’s doping ordeal.

“There’s something about playing dopers in Madrid,” she mockingly wrote in a since-deleted tweet.

Yastremska was involved in a doping case in 2021 after testing positive for the banned substance mesterolone, but her provisional suspension was lifted after the ITF ruled that she bore no fault for the positive test.

Bouchard received a backlash on social media for making controversial remarks towards a player who was found ‘not guilty’.

“I want to apologize for my tweet yesterday. It was a lapse in judgment, and unnecessary,” Bouchard responded. “Though I’ve always championed fair play, I didn’t have all my facts in order and certainly didn’t mean to cause harm. I’m going to continue to work on myself going forward, both on and off the court,” she added.

The Canadian is seeking her first Grand Slam main draw in 3 years at US Open 2023, where she suffered a career-altering concussion when she slipped on a wet locker floor in 2015.

Her career has not fulfilled the promise since, following the Canadian’s rise to prominence after an outstanding 2014 season, which saw her make the final of Wimbledon as well as the semi-finals of the Australian Open and the French Open.

In 2021, Bouchard underwent shoulder surgery, which kept her on the sidelines until 2022, and, since then, she has achieved mixed results.

Dayana Yastremska set up a 2nd-round Eugenie Bouchard rematch in US Open qualifying after beating Heather Watson in round 1

The two highest seeds to exit on Day 1 were No 6 Jaqueline Cristian from Romania, who fell 6-3 6-1 to Belarusian Iryna Shymanovich, and 16th-seeded Sara Errani from Italy, who was knocked out, 6-4 6-0, by Erika Andreeva.

Former World No 58 Cristian, who was side-lined for most of 2022 by a knee injury, had been coming off her first WTA semi-final of the year in Prague 3 weeks ago, but 162nd-ranked Shymanovich needed just 61 minutes to notch the third Top 100 victory of her career, firing 18 winners and dropping only 2 points behind her first serve.

Andreeva, the older sister of 16-year-old prodigy Mirra who is ranked 159, was similarly ruthless against 2012 semi-finalist Errani.

The 19-year-old, who made her Grand Slam main-draw debut after qualifying for last year’s US Open, swept to victory by winning 20 of the last 25 points of the match.

Andreeva faces another rising teenager in the 2nd-round after Petra Marcinko, a 17-year old from Croatia, dispatched Jil Teichmann, 6-3 6-1.

The 2022 Australian Open junior champion needed just 74 minutes to defeat the former World No 21 Swiss, who was playing her first Grand Slam qualifying competition since Roland Garros 2019.

Marcinko’s fellow 2005-born talent Celine Naef was victorious on her Flushing Meadows debut, winning a 5-7 6-4 6-4 thriller in 2 hours and 53 minutes over Yuliia Starodubtseva of Ukraine.

The 18-year-old Swiss announced herself during this year’s grass season, defeating Venus Williams on her tour-level debut in ‘s-Hertogenbosch before qualifying for Wimbledon.

She was up against another of the year’s fastest risers in Starodubtseva, 23, who was unranked at the start of 2023 but cracked the Top 200 last month to make her Grand Slam qualifying debut.

Momentum swung throughout as Naef sought to counter Starodubtseva’s lethal forehand, and, ultimately, her willingness to finish rallies at the net, where she won 14 of 17 points, proved key.

Naef will next face No 25 seed Katie Volynets from the USA, who advanced 6-3 6-4 past Czech Barbora Palicova, with the winner of that facing either Andreeva or Marcinko for a spot in the main draw.



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