Heather Watson, Laura Robson and Johanna Konta

US Open starts next week. Johanna Konta is in the main draw provided she's recovered from a viral infection. Other British players had to go through the qualification rounds and there can only be one of them to qualify as the last two Heather Watson and Katie Swan play each other in the final qualifying round.

Heather Watson won that match so joins Johanna Konta in the main draw. Heather's singles ranking had been sinking during the year. She did the sensible thing, rather than trying in the US WTA tournaments in the run up to the US Open she went for an ITF tournament in Vancouver and got through to the final. So, with the Open qualifying rounds, she's won 7 of her last 8 matches, a big improvement.

 

In the main round she's drawn against Russian world number 49 Ekaterina Makarova. Johanna Konta is drawn against the 6th seed Caroline Garcia.

Heather Watson through to the semi-finals beating Rebecca Marino 6-3, 6-4, the expected result given that Marino's ranking is substantially poorer (she's Canadian so a home player). In the semi-final Heather meets Pauline Parmentier (ranked 69). I think her progress means that she'll get back into the top 100 in the next set of rankings.

Katie Boulter has won her first round match in the Tianjin Open. That means that she'll be in the top 100 when the next set of rankings are published next Monday.  If she gets to the semi-finals she'll overtake Heather Watson (who doesn't seem to be playing this week) as the number 2 Brit.

Although Katie Boulter got through to the quarter-finals she was beaten by world number six Karolina Pliskova in 3 sets. I think she's be around 93/94 in the next set of rankings though that depends on what happens with other tournaments going on at present.

New season has started with the Brisbane International.

 

Johanna Konta made a good start beating Sloane Stephens in straight sets.

 

Heather Watson didn't make the main drawer losing the first qualifying match.

 

The other Brit in the top 100, Katie Boulter, not in this tournament having been representing GB in the Hopman Cup. The clearest sign yet that she is now the preferred GB selection rather than Heather Watson who used to be the representative.

 

Harriet Dart is another GB player to watch out for to see if this is the year she breaks into the top 100. Currently 149th. She won her qualifying matches and has beaten Priscilla Hon, an Australian wildcard, in the first round of the main drawer.

Johanna Konta had to pull out of the Sydney International second round qualiifying match with a neck injury, just a week before the Australian Open starts. She could still be in the main draw as she gas a lucky loser place. She would be playing Kiki Bertens if she's fit enough.

 

In the Hobart International, Katie Boulter lost her first round qualifying match. Better news for Heather Watson as she has won both her qualifying matches so has reached the main draw where she plays Irina-Camelia Begu.

GB's team for the Fed Cup, being held at Bath from 6 to 9 February, are Johanna Konta, Heather Watson, Katie Boulter, Katie Swan, and Harriet Dart who are the 5 highest ranked singles players. Pools of countries to be announced on the 16th next week. Johanna Konta and any of the others likely to be the singles players. Heather Watson is the strongest of the five in doubles and her partner could be Harriet Dart with a doubles rating close to that of Johanna Konta. 

Harriet Dart has won her second round qualifying match for the Australian Open but her third round opponent Ivana Jorovic is ranked quite a lot higher.

 

Draw has been made for the Open:
Johanna Konta v Aija Tomljanovic
Katie Boulter v Ekaterina Makarova
Heather Watson v Petra Martic (seeded 31)
Not yet known who would be Harriet Dart's opponent if she qualifies.

Harriet Dart is through to the main draw of the Australian Open having beaten Ivana Jorovic over three rounds. It's the first time she's got through to the main draw via qualifying of one of the Grand Slams. Her opponent is none other than Maria Sharapova. 

Harriet Dart and Heather Watson lost in straight sets against opponents much higher ranked than them. Katie Boulter goes through to the second round beating Ekaterina Makarova (ranked 60) over 3 sets. The results mean that Heather Watson cannot ovetake Katie Boulter as No 2 GB player.

 

Johanna Konta's match is tomorrow.

Post Australian Open rankings:
Johanna Konta 39 (from 38)
Katie Boulter 88 (from 97)
Heather Watson 110 (from 112)
and Harriet Dart 121 (from 131)
so little movement for the over 25s and improvements for the 22 year olds.
In the doubles Heather Watson continues to have the best ranking now at 44 (from 47).

Fed Cup at Bath University this week with GB in Pool A.
They play Slovenia on Wednesday, Greece on Thursday and Hungary on Friday.
The country which finishes top of Pool A plays the winner of Pool B (Serbia, Croatia, Turkey and Georgia) on Saturday. The winner of Saturday’s play-off secures a spot in the Fed Cup World Group II play-off in April.

 

The only live coverage of this event is on BT Sport. Considering that the Fed Cup is the women's equivalent of the Davis Cup and that this is the first time in years it's been played in this country, it should have been on BBC/ITV/Channel 4, or Channel 5.

Off to a good start with Katie Boulter beating Kaja Juvan 6-4, 6-2.
Next is Johanna Konta against Dalila Jakupovic.
In the doubles, it's expected to be Harriet Dart and Katie Swan for GB. Heather Watson not there, presumably due to illness. It's hoped she'll be joining the GB team tomorrow or Friday.

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