Heather Watson’s upturn in form continued as she defeated compatriot Katie Swan to qualify for the US Open.
The former top-40 player has dropped outside the top 100 after a poor season but her 6-2 6-4 success against 19-year-old Swan made it seven wins from her last eight matches.
With her ranking not high enough for the big WTA events of the past couple of weeks, Watson dropped down to the second-tier ITF circuit and was rewarded with a run to the final in Vancouver, ending a run of just four wins from 20 tour matches dating back to January.
She proved too strong for Swan, who acquitted herself excellently on her first senior appearance at Flushing Meadows, winning in an hour and 14 minutes to join Johanna Konta as the British representatives in the women’s main draw.
Watson said: “I think it’s been a continuation of what I’ve been doing this last month, or more than that. I was talking about it with my coach and we’ve just put in the work consistently, day in and day out. I don’t think I’ve had one bad practice or match in the last month and a half and I’m really pleased with that.
“I’m in this situation now because that’s where my ranking’s at and I think it’s good for me to play those ITFs the last couple of weeks, get more matches in. It’s given me a good base for this week.”
Watson and Swan were the last two British players in qualifying and met for the first time in a professional match.
Swan is mentored by Andy Murray through his 77 management company and was being advised from court-side during the match by the Scot’s coach Jamie Delgado.
Watson said: “Katie’s a good friend of mine, I get on really well with her, but I’ve approached every single match I’ve played the last few weeks exactly the same. I’m not playing the person, I’m playing the ball I receive and I’ve been quite relaxed before all my matches, which is important for me.”
Playing qualifying for the first time in eight years has allowed Watson to end an unwanted record, with the 26-year-old having not previously won a match at Flushing Meadows since her junior title in 2009.
“It’s been like 10 years,” she said. “I’m definitely happy to get some wins here, even if it is in qualifying. I haven’t played qualifying in a long time here. I’m just very pleased with the way I’ve played these matches and getting myself into the main draw.”
In the first round, Watson will face Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova, who she beat in their only previous meeting in Monterrey last year.