Former semifinalist Yanina Wickmayer and Kozerki 125 champion Dayana Yastremska both continued their recent strong form to advance to the second round of US Open qualifying as the fourth major of the year kicked off.
No.3 seed Wickmayer, 33, trailed Katherine Sebov by a set and 5-3, and was two points from defeat against the Canadian. But she battled back over 2 hours and 44 minutes to triumph 6-7(3), 7-5, 6-2, setting up a second-round meeting with Harriet Dart.
Fourteen years after reaching the US Open semifinals as a teenager and two years after giving birth to daughter Luana, Wickmayer has been on a roll this year. The Belgian returned to the Top 100 last month after a gap of nearly five years after reaching the last four in Warsaw, her first tour-level semifinal since Guangzhou 2017. She also has two ITF W100 titles to her name in 2023, and her win over Sebov took her season record to 42-14.
No.12 seed Yastremska extended her winning streak to six matches with an efficient 6-3, 6-2 defeat of Heather Watson. The former World No.21 has endured lean results over the past year, but two weeks ago she collected her first title in four years at the Kozerki WTA 125. The Ukrainian was imperious against Watson, slamming 33 winners -- including five aces -- to her opponent's 11, and saving all five break points she faced.
In the next round, Yastremska will have the opportunity to avenge her Madrid loss in May to Eugenie Bouchard. The Canadian advanced 6-2, 6-3 past 18-year-old wild card Katherine Hui.
Erika Andreeva, Shymanovich dole out upsets
The two highest seeds to exit on Day 1 were No.6 Jaqueline Cristian, who fell 6-3, 6-1 to Iryna Shymanovich, and No.16 Sara Errani, who was knocked out 6-4, 6-0 by Erika Andreeva.
Former World No.58 Cristian, who was sidelined for most of 2022 by a knee injury, had been coming off her first WTA semifinal of the year in Prague three weeks ago. But No.162-ranked Shymanovich needed just 61 minutes to notch the third Top 100 victory of her career, firing 18 winners and dropping only two points behind her first serve.
No.159-ranked Andreeva, the older sister of 16-year-old prodigy Mirra, was similarly ruthless against 2012 semifinalist 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.
Teenagers Naef, Marcinko notch first Flushing Meadows wins
Andreeva will face another rising teenager in the second round after Petra Marcinko, 17, dispatched Jil Teichmann 6-3, 6-1. Marcinko, the 2022 Australian Open junior champion, needed just 74 minutes to defeat former World No.21 Teichmann, who was playing her first Grand Slam qualifying competition since Roland Garros 2019.
Marcinko's fellow 2005-born talent Celine Naef was also victorious on her Flushing Meadows debut, winning a 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 thriller in 2 hours and 53 minutes over Old Dominion University alumna Yuliia Starodubtseva of Ukraine.
The 18-year-old Swiss announced herself during this year's grass swing, 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; 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, who advanced 6-3, 6-4 past Barbora Palicova, with the winner of that facing either Andreeva or Marcinko for a spot in the main draw.
Crawley, Melnikova save match points to advance
Another college standout, 21-year-old wild card Fiona Crawley, emerged on top of Day 1's wildest contest, defeating Reka Luca Jani 6-1, 6-7(5), 7-6 in 2 hours and 55 minutes. The American led 6-1, 3-1 but had to save two match points serving at 4-5 in the third set following a valiant Jani fightback.
No.731-ranked Crawley saw triple match point come and go as she served for the match at 6-5 in the third set, but converted her fifth opportunity in the super tiebreak. University of North Carolina student Crawley, 21, who is currently ranked No.1 in NCAA Division 1, will next face Timea Babos.
Marina Melnikova also saved one match point en route to a 4-6, 7-6(3), 6-1 win over Astra Sharma in 2 hours and 15 minutes. Sharma held her match point serving for victory at 6-5 in the second set, but Melnikova responded by taking 26 of the next 31 points to take a 4-0 lead in the decider. Ultimately, from match point down No.829-ranked Melnikova won 35 of the last 46 points of the contest.