Harriet Dart scored the best win of her career at the US Open and edged closer to overtaking US Open champion Emma Raducanu as British No.1.
Dart, 26, had never won a main draw match in New York before Monday but managed to upset world No 9 Daria Kasatkina of Russia in three grueling sets.
Despite winning the first set tiebreak, Dart then fell behind 3-1 in the decider and looked to be out of the tournament. But he won five straight games, fending off two break points when he served for the match, and wrapped up the match 7-6(8), 1-6, 6-3 with a powerful forehand down the line.
It is Dart’s best ever ranking win and also earned valuable points that could see her become Britain’s No.1 for the first time in her career by the end of the tournament.
If Raducanu were to lose her first round match on Tuesday, and along with the 2,000 ranking points she is defending here, Dart would be 11 points short of her total and just one win away from Britain’s top spot.
“Oh really? To be honest, that’s not something I think about,” he said.
“It’s more about putting my best out there and trying to work my way up the rankings slowly but surely. But if that happens great. It would be amazing to be able to do but for me it’s just day in and day out and focus in what I can control.”
Dart has a good chance of succeeding in her second round. She will be the favourite, ranked marginally higher than her rival and world No 91 Dalma Galfi of Hungary.
Jack Draper also got off to a winning start, beating Finland’s Emil Ruusuvuori 6-4 6-3 6-3 on his US Open debut. It was a rematch of their tie at Queen’s, where Ruusuvuori beat Draper in the fourth round.
Draper has moved up the rankings significantly, to 53rd, since then and has taken confidence from big-name wins. He will need to give another one in the second round against sixth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime.
Elsewhere on Monday, Kyle Edmund suffered a straight-sets loss to world No. 7 Casper Rudd in his first major singles match in two years.
During his long spell on the sidelines, former British No 1 Edmund had questioned whether he would ever play again, such was the severity of his serious knee injury. His last operation was just 11 weeks ago, but he used the protected ranking to get into the main draw here.
Despite the absence, the former world No 14 put up a decent fight against Rudd, who was a French Open finalist in June. In fact, Edmund, 27, broke straight away in the first game and had more chances later in the set to go ahead, but Rudd broke him in the eighth game to hold on to the lead.
Edmund pushed the second set to 5-5, with his forehand back to his best and moving well. But he looked rusty at key moments in the match, winning just two of eight break points. When Rudd took the second set, it was a one-way affair and he eventually won 6-3, 7-5, 6-2.
However, Edmund’s ability to compete at this level again will be encouraging, after such a major injury. He spent the summer in the US, including competing on the Challenger Tour – a step below the tour level – to get the match time he needed to regain his fitness.
The biggest shock of the day was the early exit of seventh seed and two-time champion Simona Halep by Ukrainian qualifier Daria Snigur. Former Wimbledon junior champion Snigur, 20, held her nerve and held off Halep’s return to eventually serve her out at the second time of asking, 6-2 0-6 6-4. She broke down in tears at the end, showing the blue and yellow Ukrainian ribbon pinned to her chest during her emotional celebrations.
The night session brought more surprises, with fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas being crushed by Colombia’s Daniel Galan, dropping the first 11 games before going down 6-0 6-1 3-6 7-5. Tenth seed Taylor Fritz was also sent off and Tsitsipas thought the pressure of seeing the tournament more open than ever – with Novak Djokovic absent and Rafael Nadal’s form still unknown – might have gotten the better of him.
“I’m not going to lie, I was very motivated and pushed before the US Open started because I knew I could use this tournament to get closer to the No. 1 spot,” Tsitsipas said.
“It would be very strange if it didn’t cross my mind, it’s something I’ve wanted since I was a kid and I knew this was my chance to step it up. It just didn’t go the way I planned. Sometimes maybe you just have to let go, not overthinking it or pushing yourself too hard.”